Tofu: the other white bivalve.
Look closely at this dish. No, I don't mean the food, I mean the dish. It's a piece of Franciscan dinnerware, the Desert Rose pattern. My friend and frequent commenter Nancy noticed I had the pattern from one of my photos—I had a few dessert bowls, a gift from my mother-in-law. So she offered me the complete set from her mother-in-law's estate. I gladly accepted (See? Blogging does pay!) and the four boxes arrived last week. I had fun unpacking them—it included the cutest tiny salt and pepper, shaped like rosebuds! I love china and pretty dishes, and lately have been picking up interesting pieces for food photos. Thanks again, Nancy!
As for the food, I saw a recipe for scallops in a vanilla coconut sauce, and since whatever you can do with shellfish I can do with tofu, it seemed an ideal recipe for veganizing. Vanilla seems to be a trendy ingredient these days. There's a posh restaurant near here which features a menu of vanilla-infused dishes. So I bought a couple of beans, and experimented. The saffron rice was perfect underneath, and those green beans, sautéed with ginger and other Indian spices, were also just the right accompaniment. (I'll post the recipe for those soon, as they were a real taste bud treat.)
A trendy new recipe, and classic old dishes. Perfect together!
Vanilla Tofu with Saffron Rice
½ lb (250 kg) tofu, squeezed and cubed
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup white wine
1 vanilla pod
1 small pinch mace
4 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons soy cream
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red chile, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine water and wine in a sauce pan. Place over high heat. Slit open the vanilla pod and add it to the water/wine mixture, along with the mace and shallots.
Bring to a boil and add the tofu.
Simmer for 4 or 5 minutes, then add soy cream, coconut milk and olive oil. Simmer over low heat until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over saffron rice.
1 ½ cups basmati rice
3 cups water, in all
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
1 large shallot, minced
1 dash cinnamon
Heat 1 cup water to boiling and add the saffron threads. Let sit for 20 minutes to extract the aroma and color of the saffron.
Meanwhile, sauté the minced shallot with the margarine, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add water, rice, a dash of cinnamon and salt to taste.
Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to lowest setting. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until water is completely absorbed.
Serve with Vanilla Tofu and red chile for garnish.
Notes on ingredients: Use Chinese-style water packed tofu, extra firm or firm. Squeeze gently to remove excess water (between a couple of tea towels) and then cube into bite-sized pieces. Don't omit the extra step of immersing the saffron threads in the warm water—it's vital to release the aroma and color. I used European cinnamon, which is different from American cinnamon, but that's a lesson for another day.