Monday, November 12, 2007

A Flock of Firsts

I achieved many culinary firsts yesterday. I:

1. Cooked tofu.
2. Made a "real" meal (a protein, a grain and a vegetable all on a plate together).
3. Plated the food after cooking it and actually sat down and ate it while it was still hot.
4. Had polenta.
5. Worked with poppy seeds.
6. Got my entire family to eat (and like!) asparagus.
7. Made recipes from Veganomicon.

I started with the asparagus, following the incredibly easy Veganomicon grilling instructions: cut off the ends, throw in a bag with garlic and olive oil, rub, let sit for at least ten minutes. I let mine sit while I made the rest of the food.

Bagged asparagus:

Then I moved on to the polenta. Forgetting about cooking for a moment, I'd never even eaten polenta before, so I was kind of nervous about how it would turn out. How would I know it was done? How could I tell if I fucked it up without any basis for comparison? I did a quick search for "polenta" on flickr and decided that would have to do.

Veganomicon has two polenta recipes: broccoli and soft poppy seed. I picked the Soft Poppy-Seed Polenta just because it looked like it took less time to prepare (this was because it was left soft). Then I noticed I had some broccoli left over from my weekly Big Ass Salad that would never survive until next week, so I chopped that up and threw it in with the poppy seeds (which were full of static somehow and stuck to everything). It was probably a bit less than a cup of broccoli.

Polenta when it was just added to the pot, so you can actually see the broccoli:

Please heed the instructions when they say to stir regularly. I didn't know how often I needed to stir until I saw that if I left it alone for more than about thirty seconds, it started to bubble and make lovely glooping and popping noises like a witch's cauldron (even on the lowest heat setting). It was actually pretty fun to watch.

According to the book, the recipe should make 4-6 servings. I doubled the recipe so I can eat it all week (don't know how well that will turn out, but we'll find out) and I got about fifteen servings out of it. Talk about bang for your buck! Definitely worth the complete lack of effort.

Finished polenta:

Extreme Closeup! If you look really carefully and know it's there, you can see the broccoli:

Then I moved on to the Basic Broiled Tofu. The hardest part of this recipe was cleaning the broiler. My family moved to this house nearly ten years ago and the broiler had never been used. The storage drawer under the oven was full of dust. It was pretty nasty.

I doubled this recipe too and I'm glad I did because I could just inhale all of it. That's how good it is. And it took less than 30 minutes to make. And it's low fat. WIN! (actually, according to the icons, all three of the recipes I made are low fat, take less than 45 minutes to prepare and are regular supermarket friendly). I think I may have put a bit too much lemon juice in the braising sauce, but that's OK because I love lemons. I think it adds a nice zip. I used Nama Shoyu as the base for the sauce because I don't really like regular soy sauce, but Nama Shoyu is totally yummy. For me, I think it's worth the price, but I try not to use it too often.

Once it was done, it was really, really difficult for me to keep myself away from the tofu long enough to grill the asparagus in my new grill pan. I'm glad I kept my self-control, though, because the results were amazing. Right before putting it in the pan, I added a bit of sea salt and shook it up again. Seven minutes in the pan and I had gorgeous, tasty, perfectly textured asparagus.

Check out those grill marks!

It was so good, I thought I might even be able to get my no-green-food-eating little brother to try it. He and his friend did, then came downstairs begging for more. So did my equally no-green-food-eating father. My mother doesn't like the look of asparagus, so she closed her eyes before biting into it, but ugly or not, she loved it. If I'd let them, they would have left me with nothing to eat during the week (the brother also really liked the tofu and thought the polenta was OK)!

It's so thrilling to have found something my whole family loves that isn't chocolate. And that's just from my first time trying out the book (of course, I also got oil and garlic on it)! I see many happy meals on my family's future, thanks to Vegan With a Vengeance and Veganomicon.

Vegan food on acid?


Coppe said...

Wow, those look incredible. I really want to make that polenta now.

Congrats on impressing your family!

Jessica said...

What tofu recipe is it? It looks tasty!

Seitan Said Dance said...

It's the Basic Broiled Tofu from Veganomicon (page 126). And thanks, it is!