Yes, that is a bowl of sliced raw button mushrooms. It wasn’t what I planned to lead this post with, but I am glad I took that photo because the dish that they were part of was not very photogenic. That dish was the Mushroom and Tofu Stroganoff from The Tassajara Recipe Book and I’m here to tell you that if you like stroganoff and tofu, you should probably make this dish sooner rather than later. Will it remind you of your college and post-college days of vegetarianism? If you graduated from college more than eight years ago, then yes. I came up with eight years randomly. I have no empirical evidence of any of this (though I am sure it could be gathered), but the recipes in this book really remind me of a time and place. For me personally, it was a time of being excited by new flavors and ingredients (tofu, apple cider vinegar, fake ground meat) and the ability to make my own meals.
My strict vegetarianism only lasted for one year, but for most of my life, especially when I first started cooking for myself, meat held an ambivalent place in my diet. I’m probably making the Tassajara* book sound bad. It doesn’t actually have any recipes involving fake meat, tempeh, or other highly processed ingredients, though it does have a chapter on tofu. I just know that when I read the title of this recipe, I thought it sounded like awful hippie food, but I had all the ingredients and have been trying to cook 5 recipes out of a cookbook before I move on. As soon as I started cooking though, I knew this recipe was a winner. I think you should make it, and serve it over rice, as I did.
This technically involves two recipes from the book since the tofu marinade is the first step. This afternoon I made Tassajara’s “Fabulous Black-Eyed Peas,” and they have proven to be just that. Really unusual flavor resulting from the use of oregano and fresh ginger. I’ll be having this for lunch over the next few days. We had the Mexican Baked Eggs for breakfast this morning. I need to use up some cream cheese so I plan to make the Glazed Cream Cheese-Lemon Cookies later this week. That will make it 5 recipes and then I’ll try a different book. In other news, I just decided that Nigel Slater’s Eat is a boring book that is too heavy on meat. I’ve made about 7 recipes from it and I have to say that none of them were exciting. They were either too heavy or much too austere. I might try to trade this book in at a local used bookstore. Enjoy the start of your week.
*Tassajara is a Zen center in San Francisco.
Slightly adapted from The Tassajara Recipe Book
1 block tofu
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Shiaoxing wine (or red wine)
1/2 cup soy sauce (or tamari)
1/2 teaspoon salt
some twists of black pepper
Drain and press the tofu between two heavy cutting boards or plates for 15 minutes to remove excess water. Once you have done this, cut it into four slabs and set aside.
Toast the oregano in a small frying pan until it becomes aromatic. Do not let it burn! Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, and add the oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Pour the hot marinade over the tofu slabs and marinate for at least two hours or overnight (in the refrigerator). You can save the marinade and reuse it within a week.
MUSHROOM AND TOFU STROGANOFF
Slightly adapted from The Tassajara Recipe Book
1 block of tofu prepared using recipe for Tofu Marinade (above)
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
a pinch of dried thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Shiaoxing wine (or dry sherry or red wine)
1 cup chicken stock (or mushroom or vegetable stock)
1 1/2 cups full fat yogurt (or sour cream)
Drain marinated tofu on a slanted board while you gather and prepare the rest of your ingredients. Cut the tofu into strips or cubes and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter in a saute pan. When the oil/butter is hot, add the onions. Saute them on high heat until they begin to brown just slightly, then turn down the heat and cook until the onions get very soft. This will take about 15 minutes. While they are cooking, slice the mushroom 1/ 4 inch thick, chop the garlic, and warm the stock.
Mix the garlic, paprika, nutritional yeast, and a pinch of dried thyme into the cooked onions. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the soy sauce. Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and stir carefully. Once the mushroom begin to cook, ad the tofu and the wine, and let bubble and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the heated stock to the yogurt or sour cream. Add this to the pan. Cook until the sauce is hot and reduced to the thickness you want. Try not to boil the sauce for too long or the yogurt/sour cream will curdle. Check the seasoning. Serve over rice or egg noodles.