Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mahogany Tofu (aka Mock au Vin)

I fell down, down, down in a burning ring of tofu. Not shown: brisket, arugula salad, apples, gf noodle kugel, gf honeycake, gf bread. Raise your hand if you've got a brand-new celiac diagnosis in the house! [raises hand]
Happy New Year, oh beloved ones. Not that I am very capital-J Jewish myself. More Jew-ish, as people say, raised as I was by a religion-hating Jew and an atheist disavowed Catholic. But I do love food and festivity, and I like to pick and choose my celebrations. Rosh Hashanah is a favorite, because brisket, which I am crazily good at making.

Okay, they weren't dressed up like mafia hitmen for the holiday. We went to a memorial over the weekend. My late, great friend Ali's brother Jeremy, who is my oldest living friend, lost his beautiful wife to ovarian cancer. Are you following along? The horror. We are heartbroken (despite some of us looking like we're about to tie a cinder block to somebody's foot).
Even though I have zero patience anywhere else in my life—I am the person who breaks a new picture frame trying to tear the plastic off of it, who sighs sharply because it’s taking you longer than I think is strictly necessary to explain what you need me to do, who yells “Aaaaaaagh!” and waits for someone to run in and help me unjam the printer cartridge, which I’ve incorrectly wedged into the printer in some kind of fit—I have the patience to cook tough meat for a long time. A loooooong tiiiiime. I will post the brisket recipe sometime, but honestly? It’s basically my stewrecipe, adapted for a ginormous single piece of meat. You have to cook it for 5 or 6 hours. And you have to make it the day before, because otherwise forget about slicing it.

Also not related to the holiday. Have I mentioned my kids' book? Oh, I have? Sorry! Are these not the most wonderful pictures? Please send me yours! Please review the book on amazon and goodreads! And hey, if you can get it into the hands of someone at IKEA, will you please? Or reach out to me about it. (Reach out to me! Who even am I?)
But, there were vegetarians in the house! Even beyond the usual Birdy. So I made our famous fancy tofu, which Michael and I have always festively called “Mock au Vin,” because it’s seasoned a lot like that chicken dish, minus the bacon. And minus the chicken. And plus orange, because why not? I kind of can’t believe I’ve never posted this recipe here. I think it is my favorite tofu recipe, which is saying a lot, because I have a number of near-favorites, like this. And this. And this. Ooh, and this one, that I stole from Jenny.

I doubled the recipe, naturally. Honestly, even for just four of us, I have to double the recipe.
But it is really, really good: dark and tangy and salty, inoffensively winey and citrusy, a little buttery-rich and oniony, and with a lovely tender-firm bite when you, er, bite it. It’s also just fantastic cold or at room temperature. If you’ve ever made the . . . oh my god, I was looking it up for linking, and it’s not here! The Double-Soy Ginger Tofu. What? Oh, okay, it’s here. But I need to move it over too. Anyhoo, if you’ve ever made that, you’ll recognize the method. And the method is: give all that good flavor nowhere to go but into the tofu.


Shanah Tovah, my Jewish, Jew-ish, not-at-all-Jewish darlings. May the season and year ahead bring you every blessing. And may you call your senators and ask them to please, compassionately, oppose the new and terrifying Graham-Cassidy "healthcare" bill. xo

The blinding white pieces were not quite as blindingly like that in real life, but it's true I could have done a better job with even marinade distribution. Plus, I have a tilty oven rack.
Mahogany Tofu (aka Mock au Vin)
This is the tofu we make "for company," like the weird suburban ex-hippies that we are. To double the recipe, put it all in a giant roasting pan, as shown here, or simply use two lasagna-sized pans.

1 (14-ounce) block of extra-firm tofu
Juice and grated zest of half an orange
1 shallot (or part of an onion), chopped
Black pepper
½ cup red wine (chianti is a good choice)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon each sugar and kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 generous tablespoon butter

Drain the tofu, wrap it in a clean dish towel, and put something heavy on it. For me, this is a small cutting board that I then put the tea kettle or a can of tomatoes on; press the tofu for at least five minutes, but longer is better—up to an hour. You’re getting all the water out of it so that it will get really thirsty, and then it will greedily suck up all that delicious wine and juice and butter.

Heat the oven to 400 and grease a lasagna-sized baking dish.

Cut the tofu crosswise into twelve slices (this is easiest to do evenly if you cut it into quarters and then cut each quarter into thirds) and lay the slices in the pan, where they will just barely fit. Grate the orange zest over it, then sprinkle on the onion and give it a good grinding of black pepper.

Stir together the orange juice, wine, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, sugar, salt, and thyme, then pour this over the tofu and tilt the pan so that the liquid makes contact with all of the cut surfaces of the tofu. Dot the tofu with butter.

Bake until the liquid has completely evaporated and the tofu is a deep brown (the pan may start to look a bit burnt around the edges—don't worry), about 45 minutes. Allow to sit for fifteen minutes or so (it's firmer and tastier once it cools a bit) then eat. 

27 comments:

  1. Holy moly. I am still stuck on "brand new celiac diagnosis in the house." That's a game-changer, right? Wondering if the no-knead bread is already an archived relic? Wishing you much fellowship and self-care on the journey of a whole new eating regime. And another ovarian cancer death in the same family-community is beyond beyond devestating. Totally understandable that your patience is dried up.

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    1. Thank you for paying attention so sweetly. Luckily the no-knead folks have a gf bread book! Not half bad, those loaves!

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  2. Oh Catherine!you are so sweet to think of us and post more recipes and pictures of your adorable children after another close family friend death. They remind me of the Blues Brothers in that pic.... It just boggles my mind how your friend could lose both his sister and his wife to the same disease. That is so unfair and sad. Sending you hugs and positive vibes.
    xoxoxoxo

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    1. Thank you, thank you, dear Dolly. xo

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  3. Deirdre1:32 PM

    I'm so, so sorry, Catherine.

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    1. Thank you, dear Deirdre.

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  4. Catherine, I'm so sorry.

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  5. Catherine, what a terrible loss for you and your friend. I hope sharing the experience helps your healing, and food can be good for that too. On the subject of brisket, my grandmother's features a little of the morning's coffee and something called "Kitchen bouquet," but even though I have all the ingredients I never can quite get it right. Maybe the day before thing is why.

    We are reading and cackling at One Mixed-Up Night! It's the first thing I've gotten my 4th grader (a true IKEA devotee) to read in forever that isn't a graphic novel/comic book. xoxo

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  6. What devastating news for your family/friend circle. I wish you a sweet year full of nothing but happiness and good news.

    My 7yo has been on a crazy tofu kick lately. Usually I go easy and serve it cold drizzled in soy sauce, black vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. I might have to up my game with this recipe.

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  8. I'm so sorry for your loss - and your friend's! My heart aches for all of you!

    I've got three sons, two with celiac. I was initially overwhelmed pursuing a gluten-free household so my boys would always know anything under my roof was appropriate for their dietary needs (no beer! :-( my husband is not on board with that one). Then decided to go simple with my cooking - meat, veggie, salad. Once we realized glutenous foods are really just a means of getting other food into our mouths, we got used to just going without. We've got a few store-bought substitutes in the wings for school sandwiches and linguini. I still need a good pie crust recipe that is light and flakey and ideally, forgiving. But in the big scheme of all of the health ailments we could be dealing with - this one is a minor inconvenience.

    (also, when we first cut the gluten, one of my celiac kids gained 20 lbs within 2 months and I lost that much - he wasn't absorbing nutrients and I was carrying around a bunch of sh*t - we are both better for the change!)

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  9. I am so exited because I have all the things necessary to make this in my house!!!!! To celebrate the new year, I took my Ben, who is similar age to your Ben ( I have been reading you since Babycenter days!!) for a second visit to that very, very big MA state school, so am thinking that your Ben must be narrowing down college choices too....can not believe I have been reading your posts for this long!!!!!! From Babycenter to COLLEGE!!!! Yikes!

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  10. ErinInCA10:51 PM

    Celiac here, and I'm ... five years in. My favorite flour by far is Cup4Cup, developed by the pastry chefs at The French Laundry. It's sold at Williams-Sonoma (I wait for 20% off/free shipping sales and buy five bags at a time). My kids SWEAR that baked goods taste identical made with that flour.

    Also -- fuck cancer. I'm so sorry. It's too much.

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  11. Allyson11:53 PM

    Catherine, I am so, so sorry for your loss. May her memory be for a blessing.
    L'Shanah Tova and a sweet and joyful new year to you and your family, from a fellow brisket-loving half-Jew.

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  12. Devastating. I'm so very sorry. Cancer is a fucker and takes no mercy on our broken hearts. Hoping your gatherings this week bring comfort.

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  13. I'm so sorry for your loss. Everything sucks. Fuck.

    But can I raise my hand to the new celiac diagnosis in the house? We're about two months in, and it's awful. My husband has always been a picky eater - seriously, seriously picky - and now he can't eat three quarters of his tried-and-true favorites. We're left with about five meals that he'll eat and he complains all the time about being sick of those things, but either refuses to try anything new or tries it and hates it. I'm on the verge of pulling out my hair. I'm sure you already know how lucky you are, but pile another log on that fire for flexible eaters. :)

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  14. Some day soon, my vegan daughter is going to worship me for making thus tofu. Also, not to be rude? But there's a typo in your post. Graham- Cassidy is actually a wealthcare bill, and you spelled it "healthcare."

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  15. I'm so sorry, Catherine!

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  16. Anonymous9:27 AM

    Catherine, I'm so sorry. If it felt like a kick in the gut to me as I connected the dots on this devastating news, it's unfathomable how it must feel to this family and circle of friends. Elizabeth (commenter above) said it well--cancer takes no mercy on broken hearts. Love to you, Cathy K

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  17. Can I just say that I'm selfishly glad to hear of your (family member's) new celiac diagnosis, because it means that more of your fabulous recipes may turn out to be accessible to me! I know, selfish. I'm nine years in on this thing, and it's way easier than it used to be, but I'm still always on the lookout for new and delicious things to eat. Also, my sympathies on you and your friend's too many losses. Suckiness abounds.

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  18. Two comments on one post...but I HAD to tell you that I finally ordered your book for my son and, while he's reading and enjoying it, I grabbed it while he was at school and devoured it in one sitting. It's so great, Catherine. It's your best writing, packaged for the kids, but it was just magical for me too. And I SOBBED at the descriptions of Walter's dad (in the very best way). Oh my--you continue to have a way of articulating the hardest of feelings.

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  19. C, I love the photo of your Ben and Birdy; I'm so so sorry for your loss. Made the tofu tonight, subbing lemon for orange and balsamic for sherry vinegar. It turned out delicious! I'm a little sad I only made a single batch, but didn't want to wash two pans. Thinking of you and yours. xo, Rachel

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  20. Did you see the review of your book in Domino mag?!

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  21. GF tips, get a lot of different flours! Cakes are amazing made GF. I just use normal recipes and sub as I go. It's fun and a good excuse to have lots of pretty jars in your pantry. A good place to start is half brown rice flour, half fine almond meal or flour, then you can putz around with that. (Do the rice flour/almond sub to make killer pancakes, too). Sorghum, millet, buckwheat, cornmeal, are all fun ones to play around with. Add starch for lightness (potato/tapioca/corn/arrowroot). Tinkyada brown rice pasta is reliable. Tara Barker's piecrust is a good one (just google tara barker piecrust gf). Check out My Darling Lemon Thyme blog and cookbook, I've had her first book a few years and it's such a go-to (vegetarian too). She has a good savory piecrust recipe, too. There are some people who have made GF sourdough out of real! flour! (I don't like bread recipes that rely almost solely on starches) but I have not done a lot of experimenting there - but if you're interested, check out Naomi Devlin. Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies are the bomb and only have 1/2 cup of flour - just use rice flour. I know you have it lying around because of your buffalo cauliflower - which I make a few times a year, and adore. Ok, over and out.

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  22. My partner and I have been trying for a baby for over SEVEN years, We were going to a fertility clinic for years before somebody told me to contact this spell caster who is so powerful called Agbazara Temple for him to help me get pregnant,And I'm glad we contacted DR.AGBAZARA, Because his pregnancy spell cast put us at ease, and I honestly believe him, and his powers really helped us as well, I am thankful for all he has done. contact him via email at: ( agbazara@gmail.com ) or ( WHATSAPP; +2348104102662 ) if you are trying to get a baby, he has powers to do it.

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  23. Dude. I have spent the last week googling your name + miso + tofu, since I finally got my hands on some miso. That recipe never came up ONCE. Glad to have it now, though! And I'm so sorry for your loss.

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