Gertrude & Alice; BBQ Tofu & Plantain Tacos with Avocado Cream

Unsurprisingly, I'm really getting burnt out on studying. I'm feeling very petulant these days, because while it is perfectly clear that I can't stop now, so close to the test, I still have the overwhelming urge to ditch all these notecards and tapes and sulk all day at a coffee shop over some Gertrude Stein novels and massive soy vanilla lattes.

As a matter of actual fact, my real escapist fantasy would be to just actually be Gertrude Stein, presiding over an avante-garde salon of famous artists and writers and making wisely arrogant quips while my lover cooks me french delicacies, a la Alice B. Toklas.
Stein and Toklas in their fabulous Parisian flat. Don't they look so relaxed?

However and unfortunately, I've yet to wake up in Paris just yet, so I guess I will have to just take some inspiration from both Stein and Toklas: look at every obstacle as if its just foolishness, and cook myself delicacies at every spare moment.

This evening's meal was a good start: I found some good plantains at the store and had a yen for BBQ tofu, so made my meal around that. The result? BBQ tofu tacos with plantains, black beans, and avacado-lime cream, topped with shredded lettuce and cucumber/mango relish. (I know, I got carried away.)

Looks kind of bizarre outside of the taco, but believe me it was all very tasty. I think anyone of the components could be good again in the future or with different combinations. What I might do differently next time is use a spicier BBQ sauce because altogether the meal was pretty sweet. But then again, any kind of sauce (jerk, hot) would work just as well.

BBQ Tofu
*Everyone has their favorite tofu strategies, I just happened to use this method because I wanted small pieces that would stay crunchy in tacos yet soak up the sauce.

-1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed, drained, and sliced into smallish cubes
-plain soymilk
-spice rub, seasoning salt, ect.
-oil for frying
-your fave BBQ sauce

1.) After cutting the tofu to your desired bite-sized dimensions, fill a large saute pan with about 1/2- 1/4" peanut or vegetable oil and heat to medium. While its getting hot, fill one small bowl with plain soymilk. Next to it, fill a small bowl with equal parts cornstarch and flour, and a good heap of spice rub or blend. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.

2.) When oil is hot (test by dropping a small piece in and seeing if bubbles quickly fizz around it) start dropping chunks of tofu in the milk bath, then rolling them in flour/ cornstarch mixture before dropping them (carefully) in hot oil. Do this in batches depending how large your pan is.
3.) Using chopsticks or tongs, flip the tofu pieces over after about 3 minutes. When both sizes are lightly browned and crunchy, transfer to a plate or bowl lined with paper towels.
4. When all batches are done, remove paper towels and douse the tofu in your favorite BBQ sauce. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet or pan and stick in the oven for 10 minutes or so. This should render the outside BBQ sauce a little crunchy and keep your tofu hot while you prepare anything else you're having.

-1 Avocado diced
-Juice from small lime
-1/2 clove garlic diced
-1 tbs agave nectar
-salt to taste (i used about 1/4 tsp)
-1/2 lb. silken tofu

1.) In food processor, pulse first 5 ingredients until creamy. Add in silken tofu by a couple spoonfuls at a time, stopping when cream has reached desired consistency and tanginess. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Perfect Plantains
-2 large Plantains
-Earth Balance
-Brown sugar (optional)

1.) First, find the right plantains. (This is where I usually f*ck up.) The ones you want for sweet plantains are going to be browning and speckled all over and yielding slightly to the touch. Basically it should look like a banana looks when you think "time to make banana bread."
2.) Peel plantains, using a knife if necessary. Quarter by cutting it once in the middle, then cutting each half into four. Meanwhile, place two knobs of EB over medium/ medium low heat and wait until butter has just melted but not yet started to bubble or brown.
3)Add in plantains, quickly coating to toss. If there is not enough butter to coat them all, add in a little more.
4) Raise the heat to medium and cook, turning and tossing occasionally, until sides have caramelized and plantains have changed to a bright golden yellow. At this point, sprinkle with a little brown sugar if desired, cook a minute or two more, and remove from heat. YUM!

Quickie Cucumber Relish

*Utter simplicity but so nice and cooling, I like to serve this relish aside thai or african dishes too. Alongside, for instance, tofu satay I would sub out mango for chopped red onion. Traditional recipes boil the vinegar first, but I don't bother and still like it. (Up to you my friends!)

-1 large cucumber
-1/2 mango
-Rice vinegar
-pinches of sugar

1.) Peel and de-seed cucumber, then cut into thin matchsticks. Cut mango into tiniest pieces possible (just try making matchsticks, ha!) Combine in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and pour over enough rice vinegar to coat. Toss once, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Well its back to work, fortified by all the exotic fusion yumminess. And as Gertrude Stein would say: "Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening."

Song of the Day: Paolo Conte- Sparring Partner


Hannah said...

That avocado cream sounds positively luscious! I'd love to try it as a sandwich spread or veggie dip, too.

jessy said...

oooh, your tacos of bbq tofu awesomeness, perfect plantains, and avocado cream look absolutely glorious! mmmmmmmmmmm! totally going to have to make these! you are too awesome!

sorry you're get'n burned out on all the studying - i can't blame you! just think about how good it's gonna feel when you're done! superw00t!

nicoleishappy said...

omgoodness im making that very soon for a dinner date! i love tofu and plantains! you make such awesome food. cant wait to read more

The Cooking Lady said...

On the plantain thingy, you 'could' use them in their gtreen state, but they are called tostones. They are still green, but not so green you cannot cut them.

You fry them up after you have cut them into circular rounds then have either a special press (they are not that expensive) or you could go super-homemade and just use a paper grocery bag to press them down and it also absorbes the grease.

**pssst, I'm married to a Cuban for 28 years as of thee 11th of this month. I have a wee bit of experience**

T said...

Yeah, I've never had any luck with green plantains so I've only tried making them the sweet way. But I will have try the technique you're talking about- savory plantains are delicious too!

Anonymous said...

I need to make this meal soon! What an amazingly tasty combination of ingredients!!!!!!!!

Best of luck to you on the bar exam.

kristen said...

just made your bbq tofu. delicious!