|Dry Fried Buffalo Tofu with Simple Vegan Blue Cheese|
I'd already been dry frying tofu for a while. I remember stumbling across a YouTube video years ago that turned me on to the healthiest, simplest way to give to that restaurant quality 'skin' in no time at all. If you own a good non-stick pan, you can do it. You just put your pan on med-hi heat and place tofu in pan (I wrap mine, after cutting, in paper towels to get some of the water out as my nonstick cast iron skillet is only barely seasoned and it's more 'non stick' when the tofu is drier), turning occasionally to evenly brown all sides. Done. Seriously, it's that simple. No more tofu soaking up needless oil rather than being coated with amazing flavor of your favorite sauce.
The sauce I used, also inspired by Melody, is simply some Frank's Buffalo Hot Sauce heated in a small pan with a teaspoon of my quick version of her Chipotle Lime-Infused Coconut Butter (and to think, I would have just thrown some Organic Earth Balance in there!). My quick version is pretty much her recipe, but I didn't have the chipotle peppers and had to make up for it by throwing in a pinch or two of powdered chipotle. Surely not the same depth of flavor, so I added a touch more lime and cilantro to mine to make up for that.
When people think Buffalo Sauce and Blue Cheese they often think of.......celery! I hate celery. OK, that's not true. I LOVE cooked celery in soups and stews, and I really enjoy the flavor of celery. It's just the stringy texture that messes up that crisp celery thang it's otherwise got goin on. So, I improvised. A lover of fresh green cabbage, I cut some of that super thin and plated it. Then I tossed that with a couple pinches of celery seed on the plate. Light, fresh, crunchy, with a bit of celery flavor but none of that stringy, all-up-in-your-teeth texture. See? You hang out around enough great cooks' blogs and that genius just rubs right off!
Oh, right! The Blue Cheese! This is where I'm going to ask you to just trust me. No, really. I have spent weeks staring at the recipes strewn across the internet, shaking my head thinking, "No. No way. Just....no. There is no way that's worth trying". Remembering how UNhealthy my original vegan blue cheese stand-in was, I decided to try it. If it failed, I'd have lost very little in the way of ingredients, so why not? The recipes go something like this: Place a bit of your favorite vegan mayo in a bowl, add a tiny bit of tahini, a few shakes of garlic powder, and a couple splashes of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. So that's what I did. If I had to create a recipe, though I didn't measure with anything but my eyeballs, it would look like this.
Why Not? Vegan Blue Cheese
1/4 c. Original Vegenaise (or, about all that was left in my now watery Vegenaise jar)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or, shake, shake....shake, shake......shake, shake)
1 tsp. of tahini
1 tsp. of lemon juice
1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
pinch of sugar (I always use Florida Crystals)
whisk well, taste and adjust.
I tasted it. Shut up. It didn't taste like the rich, thick, chunky blue cheese of old that my original concoction had managed, but damn it if it didn't totally work! Maybe I've been eating vegan food for too long. I took it to the Cap'n, my resident omnivore (and awesome husband who happily tries everything I make and always gives me his absolute honest opinion). I walked up to him, tiny spoonful of this vegan could-it-be blue cheese?, and offered him the disclaimer, "OK, so it's in NO way, blue cheese, but tell me this. Doesn't it taste all.....blue cheesy?!". He tasted it. "You're right. Totally tastes all blue cheesy. Nice!". Didn't need much of the stuff, just enough to balance the heat and tang of the hot sauce with a little creamy goodness.
And so my dinner was complete, and even better than what I was craving.