On a current Forum thread, a poster despairs of making tofu palatable for her A husband.
I didn't want to derail that thread, but I do want to tell what I've said to those who haven't yet found the keys to Delicious Tempeh as well:
1. Pay attention to brand. Different brands can have very different tastes.
2. Some brands have "flavored" (i.e., pre-marinated) varieties. These might actually be delicious. You could find one you use all the time.
3. With tofu: Density is an important factor. There is "firm" tofu. There is "silky" tofu...
4. With tofu: You've got to express its water before you cook it. In the package, it is soaking in liquid, and you have to press this out. You can put the block of tofu on a plate, then cover it with another plate, and put a weight on that upper plate. Periodically pour off the liquid that has come out, until no more water is expressed. Now you can work with the tofu.
5. Frying and baking are the methods that I find most successful with someone who "doesn't like" tofu. You want to BROWN the tofu, give it a little crust that will contrast with the inner soft chewiness.
6. Tofu will absorb and nicely reflect the flavors you cook with it, so choose your oil and other ingredients carefully.
From the Blog Journal: November 2009
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Recently I've tried some new bites: Here's what is B-good and I've really enjoyed:
- Salmon Fajitas at Chevy's Fresh Mex: Delicious grilled salmon, bell peppers and onions. Chevy's also has a number of salads. You can get one with their grilled salmon: What a treat.
- Horseradish Cheddar: A local deli sells this. It's marvelous sliced and rolled with thin-sliced roast beef. You can then slice it in strips and toss it with a salad.
- Dill Havarti: Melt this over an open-faced roasted turkey or salmon sandwich. It's somewhat creamy and delicate.
- Pepper Jack: Another pungent winner. Wakes everything up. Re-discover it.
- Salmon Pakoras: An Indian restaurant takes chunks of tandoori-roasted salmon, dips them in a thin (uh oh) bajri batter (contains garbanzo flour) and flash fries them.
- Paneer Pakoras: They do the same thing with slices of Indian cheese.
(But you don't have to batter and fry tandoori salmon, which is usually so yummy on its own. And you can fry paneer in ghee with some spices; easy to reheat and slice thin, serve with chutney.)
I notice LAMB showing up on all sorts of cuisines' menus these days. All the Chinese restaurants are featuring it now.
Some favorite "ethnic" restaurant-Lamb dishes are:
- Boti Kebob (Tandoori Lamb Cubes)
- Shawerma (Middle Eastern roasted lamb, sliced and served - usually - in a pita sandwich with a vegetable salad. Sometimes it's mixed with beef.) VERY savory!
It's rare that I find myself eating a lamb leg roast or a rack of chops, though I do roast chops or tenderloin at home, and I also like lamb burgers. A number of San Francisco restaurants are serving lamb burgers now; it's definitely a trend.
B's: Do keep your eye open for Rabbit. Especially à la Moutarde in French/Burgundian restaurants, served in a copper terrine, generously sauced. This is so...soothing. It may be the ultimate B comfort food. I've tried making rabbit myself. I dunno. The bunnies this prime butcher has tend to be skinny: Very little meat on the bones. So it's a strictly restaurant option for me. If you can find a good place to order it, go often and bliss out!
We're deep into game season. Go somewhere top notch and order roast loin of venison with a port/berry reduction. Maybe you'll have dreams about your ancestors and their fire-roasted gazelles.
Some people report problems with many red wines: Headaches and the like. Often this is a matter of tannins, in which case it's a good idea to experiment with the low-tannin, more quaffable reds. Hint: If Beaujolais Nouveau (harvested a mere 3-8 WEEKS before release) doesn't upset you, your problem could very well be a matter of tannins.
But, hey, maybe you do well with ANY red wine, but you're looking for something you can drink shortly after it's released, not having a cellar or collection, or not being a wine connoisseur...What you'd want, therefore, is a red wine that is low in tannins, which means it's easy to drink young. Red wines that are heavy on the tannins take years to "grow into" them; tannins are what provide "structure" to these cellarable and complex elixirs.
But if the simpler quaffs are the ones you want (and these are, in fact, more food-friendly than the Big Boys), look at the other Beaujolais, especially since "Nouveau" or "Primeur" is out of date within just a few months of release!
(1) The top: Cru Beaujolais, meaning the 10 villages accorded this status. Crus are the longest-lived, generally, of the Beau's, some more than others. A great Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent is sometimes compared with Burgundy, being the most highly structured (tannins!) of the Crus; therefore these can lie down for 3-8 years. Although: I had a fantastic Moulin-à-Vent a few months ago, a 2003 (a FABULOUS year for Beaujolais) that would have been just right for the tannin-avoider. Perfect, in fact. Even elegant, which many wine snobs would never say about a Beaujolais (Fine, all the more for me). The other 8 Crus are nice, too, at 1-3 years.
(2) The Beaujolais-Villages: One step down from Cru, and one up from straight Beauj. In a good year, these can be every bit as good as Cru.
(3) Beaujolais: This is what the People drink, and it's good enough for me, if it's good enough. But definitely drink it within 1 to 1-1/2 years of bottling.
Now take a look at some of your Cabernet Francs: I've enjoyed Saumur-Champigny, Chinon and Bourgueuil, all from the Loire region of France. These are, also, drinkable young. If you're inclined to try a Cab. Franc from another region, go ahead!
Crozes-Hermitage, some New World Merlot (New World=Southern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere)(this category includes thousands and thousands of wines), and some Bordeaux that are skewed toward Merlot/Cabernet Franc (rather than Cabernet Sauvignon, which is more tannin-heavy)(ask the knowledgeable seller, if the proportions are not listed on the back label, which labelling is becoming more prevalent as consumers become more savvy), St-Josèph, Vacqueyras, and Côtes du Rhône: All available young (under 3 years old).
From Spain, the Garnacha is generally easy and fruity, and often is harvested from old vines; and some Tempranillo is easy-drinking as well. Try the Garnacha, and if you prefer something somewhat more refined, look for it blended with Tempranillo (should be stated on the label, front or back), and it should be pretty easy on you, tannin-wise, as well as money-wise.
From Italy, try Bardolino and Valpolicella, drinkable ONLY young, really. There's always Chianti, as well as Nebbiolo d'Albi, and Barbera d'Alba (some).
Finally, don't ignore the Pinks! These are meant to be drunk as close to harvest-time as possible, talk about tannin-freeness. Don't laugh at the thought, as if Pinks are for...teenagers or "girls". There are exciting pinks being made today...some have a transparent red-pinkness to them, and I highly suggest you experiment with these if tannin is your problem. My all-time favorite in this category has long been Domaine Tempier (Bandol), but I'm royally miffed that they keep raising the price, to the point where a beloved quaff is now a "special treat" (Sorry, but I find $24 for a bottle of Pink a bit steep! But at least it shows you the "seriousness" of the category). I love an organic pink coming out of Argentina's famous Malbec crop: It's under the Familia Zuccardi label and is available in the US at Whole Foods Market for something like $8. (When I first tried it, it was on sale for $6: Talk about low-risk, and I high-tailed it back there and bought more, after having tasted it). This wine wordlessly answers the question "How can a wine be really, really fruity with LOW residual sugar?", a common one among the uninitiated.
Now: Don't be afraid of white wine. ALL of it is tannin-free. And there are some superb combinations with food, with which you'd never usually consider white the right accompaniment. If there is demand, I'll share white wine tips with you soon. Otherwise, I'll keep them a secret.
I wasn't really thrilled to be B, or any type I might have been, as long as I was "doing-things-with" most of the right ingredients, until the Epiphany, with which I really have to credit Dr. Robert Atkins, the breakthrough-messenger in this regard: "It' okay to eat outside the Low-Fat box." For me that box, of whose tyranny I'd been quite unconscious before, was labelled "Full Fat Dairy Is Forbidden".
Frankly, I'd preferred whole milk to reduced-fat all my life, but only permitted myself to guiltfully buy the occasional quart, and I indulged my taste for it chiefly in two places: Half-and-half in my coffee, and -- rarely -- an ice cream treat, again: Knowing it's "not good for" me.
After scanning Bob's book last summer, I made different choices at the dairy department that very evening: I bought heavy cream and full-fat yogurt and sour cream. And, indeed, the ensuing weight loss was -- dramatic! (In the past, whenever I've wanted to lose weight, I've used a terrific weight loss "diet". It includes lots of dairy, but all skim or almost-skim. Not really satisfying.)
But here's what this B has discovered: I LOVE preparing cream sauces, creamy dressings and desserts. I LOVE paneer amidst my curries, and sour cream on my manna toast, with fruit. The guilt is gone: I openly and unabashedly look forward to feta cheese dressing on my beets, and I've invented a bedtime cordial that is very calming and satisfying: A shotglass of cream (occasionally diluted with cold spicy (leftover) herb tea).
In sum, I decided to indulge myself in my inherited right to really ENJOY dairy, not just "permit it, low-fat". And once I began doing so, I confirmed that the BTD is not so much about dodging lectins and "avoids": It's about, indeed, coming fully into one's genetic individuality and brazenly enjoying whatever parts of one's "beneficials"-spectrum seem to fit with THAT. My individuality -- not the Blood Type Diet -- is primary. A North American Pharmacal brochure puts it this way: "Dr. D'Adamo's research and the Blood Type Diet can help you...feel 'right' in your body, your mind and your world."
As a B, it dawned on me that the enjoyment of a way of eating that featured dairy CENTRALLY was not only "to be tolerated" but, in fact, The Answer. I'd been thinking, like most Westerners, as an O: "What's my MEAT going to be? and I'll build the menu around that." The O hunter goes out and spears the deer, and all meals revolve around that carcass for a long time. But now I think as a B: "What's my milk, my cream, my cheese, my yogurt going to be?" The B shepherd/nomad goes out and milks his camels/horses/goats/sheep, drinks the milk, churns some butter, curdles some cheese, cultures some yogurt/kefir. These guys walk alot too, and they're in great condition. Instead of: "Cool! As a B I 'can-include-some' dairy, like a low-fat kefir drink or yogurt shake", I'm saying, "WOW! I can indulge in my favorite food! Hooray!"
Example: Instead of making a tomato sauce for my spaghetti (ho hum), I'm cooking a super-creamy veal and mushroom stroganoff and covering my parsleyed egg noodles with it, next to the brussels sprouts and red wine. I'm thinking, "Those poor suckers who have to fall back on tomato sauce..."(Corollary: The way to stop missing your "avoids" is to start REALLY DIGGING your bennies!)
I'm learning a whole new way to everyday-cook. When I lived in Switzerland, I was semi-attached to my Californian metabolism, unable/unwilling to handle the "gruyère, gruyère, everywhere" ways of my friends..until NOW. (Timing is Everything.) Just as my BTD-compliant, type A, brother is admitting that he's just not honestly drawn to animal food anymore, I'm admitting that my particular B-inheritance has me enjoying the creamy milk of the flock, above and beyond all else: The milk is my centerpiece and shall take a much more central place in my every meal and snack.
Do you see how we tend to congratulate the O who identifies with the hunter/gatherer and "discovers" meat? and how we likewise praise the A who begins to really enjoy his tofu and veggies? but we address all sorts of caveats to the B who develops a cell-deep appreciation of the shepherd's way of eating? (Ever see a shepherd milk his goat and then skim off the fat before drinking it? What were we thinking????)
So, my B clanmates: Nonfat yogurt and skim milk as occasional snacks to form part of the periphery around a meat-centered diet (and those meats are supposed to be the wild stuff: venison and bunnies) may actually be unbalanced. Since I could, alas, find game and rabbits only seldom, I was spending pretty pennies on lamb, lamb, lamb and fish, fish, fish: Maybe that's your limbo-stage, too, in adhering to B. But it gets really FUN when you start saying, instead, from your deepest origins, "Look how much milk I've gotten from this cow: How can I use it creatively and satisfyingly?" and then ADAPTING your turkey leftovers or your fresh-caught cod to THAT. Pick up some paneer and say; "Where can I harvest some greens to make a saag?" and only THEN, go get your (smaller) pieces of meat and fish, and your veg/fruits/nuts...
You'll certainly be reading more from me on this topic. Meanwhile, Bob, wherever y'are: Thanks, Buddy.
I live in San Francisco, home to a bazillion restaurants per capita, many with very, very busy dishes and complex menus. But I grew up in a pretty food-savvy family that usually appreciated gustatory simplicity.
I - Poppy's Fish
The first of the Four Funny Food Stories will be in honor of Poppy, my grandfather. He was a great connoisseur of Basic Food; he appreciated the perfect steak, the perfect tomato, the perfect baked potato.
One Thanksgiving weekend, 30-or-so years ago, much of my extended family was in Florida, and my grandparents took us all out for dinner at one of those fresh seafood restaurants where a new menu is printed each day, featuring the day's 2-dozen-or-so catches, in the context of Italian cuisine. As we were a large party, the captain and two waiters were assigned arcs of our table and took our orders. I sat to the right of Poppy who, it was clear, was the host. The captain arrived last at Poppy's side and said, "And you, sir, what can we bring you?"
"Ya gotta piece of fish?" Poppy asked.
"Oh, yes, sir," replied the captain, gesturing over the entire menu. "Everything you see here was caught today. Do you have a specific --"
"I don't want bones," Poppy proclaimed. "I want a good piece of fish, no bones, and make sure it's HOT."
Poppy at his finest. It wasn't that he wasn't familiar with each and every variety of fish on that menu. But Poppy's knowledge of restaurants was keen to an undeniable fact: Any kitchen can turn out a dish whose busy sauce detracts from its imperfect fiieting/trimming and tepid temperature. He knew then, as I surely know now: The better chefs excel at the basics of meat/fish selection, "butchering", and simple cooking. Excellent food with nowhere to hide.
II - Trendy Compotes
Ten years ago my cousin Sandy was visiting San Francisco from New York with his wife and son. As usual, he had reservations for all of us for every meal (for 3 days) at the city's trendiest restaurants.
One evening, we arrived at a magnificent spot, were seated at the best table and handed menus. It was here I was offered ostrich for the first time and questioned the waiter about it. He described four medallions of meat, presented with "three compotes" which he went on to describe in exquisite detail, diverting from the meat itself, which he praised but not nearly as highly as he raved over those compotes.
I ordered the ostrich medallions appetizer and the glass of Pinot Noir he recommended with it. The wine arrived and was finished and I was still waiting for that appetizer: My dinnermates, too, were very curious to see and perhaps taste the special dish I'd been adventurous enough to order.
Finally, with my second glass of Pinot, the dish arrived. We all stared at the huge plate, whose epicenter contained four thin discs of browned meat, each the size of a half-dollar. The "three compotes", it turned out, were tiny, thimble-sized molds, composed of ultrafinely minced vegetable matter, whose 25-or-so ingredients had taken 5 minutes for the waiter to describe earlier. And, of course, there was the essential flourish of garniture somewhere-or-other on the huge charger; Sandy's wife gasped, "Oh, what a Presentation! You just HAVE to admire the Presentation!" What else could she say?
As we were marveling over the 2-or-3 ounces of food on my plate, Sandy hailed the waiter.
"Yes, sir? Is everything all right?"
"Look, kid," said Sandy, as he pointed at my plate. "Could you at least bring her a tweezer, so she can eat this?"
We all enjoyed a hearty laugh, everyone at the table was given an ostrich medallion, and I moved on to my prime rib main course and didn't look back.
Like Poppy, Sandy was a "senior" not afraid to call a spade a spade. But what of the younger, greener visitor to our hopelessly decadent eateries?
III - Impossible Hamburger
About fifteen years ago, I was helping a recently-arrived young Chinese woman acclimate to San Francisco, register for an English language program, etc. She had had almost no English instruction whatsoever.
The first time I took her to lunch, she couldn't read the menu and I tried to act-out each dish, pointing, gesturing, describing. She understood "hamburger", indicating that that was what she wanted. I flagged the waitress and ordered.
When I gave my lunchmate's order, the waitress asked, "How do you want it done?" Uh oh. I couldn't convey this to my friend, so I told the waitress, "Just make it medium."
"Sesame bun, baguette, or crunch roll?"
"I guess bun," I said.
"Plain is good," I replied, glancing at my Chinese friend who hadn't a clue...
"Curly fries, garlic fries, homefries or steak fries?"
"You want mayo on that?"
"Just bring it on the side."
"Pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion?"
"Sure. On the side."
Boy was I glad my friend hadn't ordered the Turkey Sandwich: ("Smoked, honey-roasted, or pepper-roasted? Dijon, yellow or maple horseradish mustard? Walnut-olive bread, foccacia, baguette or crunch roll? Cheese? Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar or Pepper Jack?" ARRGGHHHH!
My friend recognized the brand name "Coca Cola", so we defaulted to that. Next time, we went to a Chinese restaurant!
IV - Trouper of a Waiter
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I dined at an off hour at a very popular Burmese restaurant, which usually has a line around the corner: I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Ultimately there was precious little I could order and remain within my B parameters. Every dish contained dry shrimp flakes, or oily sauces, or deep-fried-in-who-knows-what crispy, questionable-dough treats...Suffice it to say the waiter really had to earn his tip describing almost every dish in detail at our request.
I ended up with barbecued pork riblets and Asian "sangria", dodging the tomatoes, peanuts, chicken, and shellfish that flatly dominated the menu. And I didn't feel contented afterward. That's what I'm noticing so acutely. Very busy food (unless I make it myself with superb ingredients) isn't as satisfying as a clean, broiled chop or fish-steak, a straightforward salad, vegetable, maybe a potato or yam or a plate of cheeses, nuts, and/or fruits...
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Am I channeling Poppy? or is it simply that I'm approaching my own Seniorness? Who knows, in just a few years I may start ordering like Poppy: "Gimme something Prime, aged, medium-rare and sizzling: No sauce."
"Kid: You gotta hot yam? Butter on the side."