So gone so long...

It's been awhile...but thought I'd share something that I cooked up last week. It was pretty damn good. A Toronto-based restaurant chain Fresh published a couple cookbooks that I love-- Fresh and Refresh. I know-- such creative titles! But do not be dissuaded- they make great food. In any case, the restaurant showcases primarily simple foods like rice and noodle bowls, fresh juice tonics and salads. The cookbooks offer all of the best recipes from the restaurant. This is great for someone like me who, not living in Canadia, never gets to this delicious food outside of the rogue trip to Toronto.

Anyhow, some of their popular menu items include this wicked "crispy tofu." It's cubed tofu with a crunchy coating...it's the texture that tofu lovers (and haters, incidentally) long for. I noticed another little recipe in the book last week for tofu "steaks," which is to say triangles rather than cubes. Fancy, I know. So, I decided to give it a shot. There are two keys to Fresh's take on crispy tofu: 1. Marinate. 2. Nooch. The marinade for the steaks has freshly ground coriander, garlic, Tamari and water. The coating is a combo of nooch (nutritional yeast), wheat germ (wha??) salt, pepper, garlic powder (I think). The method is frying in a bit of oil. I usually minimize the oil for my conscience's sake, and I find they come out just right by frying in just a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Super crispy and flavorful tofu. It is possible! The texture of the steaks is even better, because they are sliced somewhat thin (1/4 in.), and they almost firm up after marinating and frying. It's bizarre and delicious.

This week I made a red pepper sauce for dipping and served the steaks with a side salad and risotto cakes. It was a great meal, full of flavor.

Speaking of which, did you know that you can make risotto in the oven? I used this recipe by Ina Garten last Sunday, threw in some mushrooms, asparagus, peas and tarragon, and it was super easy. I don't know that I'll ever make risotto the old fashioned way again. Seriously. So good and only 15 minutes of work.

Did you also know that you can use leftover risotto for fun little risotto cakes the next day? Because of the viscosity of the risotto, you don't even need to add anything to it to form little patties when it is cooled. I quickly press mine in some fine whole wheat bread crumbs just to have a nice brown crust, but that is optional. Pan fry for a few minutes on each side (they will be delicate once they get hot, so be careful), or spray each with a little olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through, until browned and hot. They're a nice treat, especially served over a big green salad.

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