I waited with great anticipation to get some bags of tomatillos. I knew that they’d arrive at some point in our CSA box and, this past week, there they were, amidst an array of collard greens, potatoes, and shallots. They came in a plastic mesh bag, like the ones you find mussels or clams stored in at your local grocery store.
When I took them out of their pouch, it felt strange to hold them. We’re obviously out of summer, but these little guys feel as if their meant to be consumed in warmer climates amid lighter fare. I wondered if this was the wrong time for me to be blogging about them; that I should instead resort to squash and potatoes.
Tomatillos do happen to be in season, which ranges from May to November, so it’s not like it’s the craziest thing that I’m writing about them. And, you know what, even if you don’t make this recipe right now, one day you’ll be searching for a way to prepare these green delights and you’ll know exactly where to turn.
Now, if you have never seen or heard of a tomatillo before, here’s a little background info: The tomatillo is a staple in Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine, but their roots stem from the Aztecs, who were the first to cultivate it. They are the shape and color of a small unripe tomato, but are less tart and more citrusy in flavor. Because of this, they pair nicely in spicier dishes.
The tomatillo has a thin husk that surrounds it, giving it the appearance of a small gourd. In fact, you may see it referred to as a “husk-tomato”. When preparing the tomatillo, you will want to remove this outer shell.
There are a number of ways to cook tomatillos, but my favorite is actually to have them raw. In their most perfect form, they will be a little sweet and less tart. As mentioned above, they pair wonderfully with hot peppers, so salsa might be one direction to go in. I, however, wanted to incorporate it into my dinner, so instead I made a spicy pesto: pine nuts, garlic, cilantro, a jalapeno, a bit of lime juice, and some chopped up tomatillos. It was a burst of bright flavors that was much needed with this gloomy fall weather.
People don’t believe me when I tell them tofu can be interesting. They roll their eyes or give me a condescending smile as if to say, “Ok… whatever you say, man!” Sometimes they won’t believe you until they’ve been proven wrong. And that’s why I continue to try to find fun and creative ways to include tofu.
Over the past year, I’ve used it in two desserts. One was a chocolate pudding and the other was as a base for a chocolate-wasabi cheesecake. The tofu provided the creaminess that both desserts needed. That was its purpose and, for that reason alone, they were both a success. On top of that, however, they both turned out to be wildly decadent desserts… but that’s what happens when you throw an exorbitant amount of chocolate into the mix.
In some ways, I think I took the easy way out by using it in dessert. Who doesn’t like sugar and chocolate? The real challenge is including tofu in a main dish and to create a recipe that’s satisfying both in taste and texture.
There’s no doubt that this tofu scramble is NOT eggs. It has a very different flavor profile and not nearly as much depth. But, like real scrambled eggs (especially ones that are properly prepared), they did come out light and fluffy. With the proper seasoning, this is one of those dishes that can trick someone into believing their eating the real thing (or, at the very least, trick them into eating tofu).
Thanks must be given to Mark Bittman and the marvelous “How to Cook Everything – Vegetarian” app that was created for the iPhone. It’s rare that I download applications (at least, not ones that I’d have to pay for), but I knew that this would be one that I’d use. And I have… a number of times. Its provided me with some fantastic and quick vegetarian entrees and sides.
Bittman gives a number preparations of this tofu scramble. One with mushrooms, another with miso. But, really, you can do so much with this recipe. I could even see turning this into a breakfast sandwich, some lettuce and tomato and (dare I say it) homemade mayo (sure it won’t be vegan but it’d be darn delicious). The recipe, however, is tasty enough in its simplest form. If you have a tofu naysayer in the family, this would be a fun dish to start them off with (don’t tell them before they take a bite).
I did want to congratulate Debbie of Fort Collins, CO, for winning the Eat Boutique giveaway! I have no doubt that she’s going to love everything in her box.
Also, I mentioned on Sunday that I was nominated in the Best Photography category of the Foodbuzz Blog Awards.
Voting is open to anyone until October 17th. It’s pretty simple to do and you don’t have to register with FoodBuzz to do it. Just go to this link: http://www.foodbuzz.com/pages/awards Thanks everyone for your support!
“Mom, why have we never made a pie?” This had been a question that had nagged at me for a while. The kids at school always bragged about how their moms baked apple pie for Thanksgiving, which they served warm with a dollop of whipped cream. They brought in leftover slices and I drooled over the possibility of getting a bite.
My mom and I baked together frequently when I was a child. Brownies, cookies, pound cakes, peach kuchen. But pies? Never.
“The reason is that pie crust has lard in it,” she explained. “And that lard comes from pigs.”
Growing up in a kosher household, it makes sense why we wouldn’t make pie crust… not if it contained pork fat. This idea lingered with me for a while. In fact, it wasn’t until a year ago that I baked my first pie.
I had learned a long time ago that not all pie crusts contained lard, that they could be made with butter or vegetable shortening. But when you’re told as a child that you can’t make a certain dessert, well, the sentiment stays with you.
Making my first pie, which I did last Thanksgiving, was a proud moment for me. The crust, an old family recipe (on my husband’s side) that contains Crisco and white vinegar, came out perfectly brown on top and flaked beautifully every time I went in for another forkful.
This filling, too, is a revelation. Brown butter anything is a magical thing. But brown butter, apples, sugar, and sage. Tell me if you can think of anything more scrumptious than that.
But before you dig into a slab of apple pie, I have a GIVEAWAY for you!!! Many of you probably already know the wonderful company, Eat Boutique, run by Maggie Battista. Maggie and I met when we both spoke at TechMunch this summer and we made plans to get together. This woman is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and, not only that, but she creates the most beautiful gift boxes that contain incredible products produced by smaller businesses.
Seriously, I can’t think of a better gift to give a friend or relative than one of these boxes. They really are a foodie’s dream. And Maggie is giving away one of her Fall Handmade Gift Boxes to a very lucky A Thought For Food reader!
To enter, please go to this page and look at the items in the box and then come back and leave a comment telling us which product you’re most excited about. Only one entry per person! Only eligible for folks in the U.S. and Canada (sorry to our international friends).
You have until this Sunday, October 9th, to enter. The winner of the box will be announced next Wednesday, October 12th.