Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tofurky Roast

Pin It

We've had Tofurky Roast before but I never bothered with a review. So here is my belated review on a popular alternative to turkey on Thanksgiving.

I have to preface this review by saying that generally I'm a bit freaked out by Tofurky. I've had a lot of fake meat but I never had this reaction to any other fake meat product. Not sure why, but I guess the thought of building a butterball turkey breast out of powder and liquid weirds me out. I made fake turkey before and was mildly disturbed by the process of turning bags of random powder from Whole Foods into something that bore a fairly strong resemblance to meat. It's all mad science/magic that I don't quite understand.

We got only the Tofurky roast instead of the Tofurky Feast, which includes the butterball and other sides. Personally, I like the butterball only option. I didn't like the sides that the package came with last year. Besides, making the sides is half the fun of the Thanksgiving meal. In any event, we cooked our little butterball of magic according to its package instruction and got this beautiful Thanksgiving dinner out of it.

Obviously VB plated our pre-Thanksgiving meal. I wouldn't have bothered with cloth napkins.
When you slice cooked Tofurky open, you'll see that it's stuffed with a wild rice stuffing, which, in my opinion, is the best part of Tofurky. The wild rice adds a chewy texture and nutty flavor to the dense bread stuffing. As for the "meat" part of the Tofurky, I think it's a bit more dense and springy than real turkey, but the taste is pretty similar... especially after you've slathered on the gravy and cranberry relish. Of course, it helps that turkey is not the most distinctive tasting meat, especially the breast part.

Taste: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Texture: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

In a Nut Shell: Still the best meatless alternative for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chipotle Tamale Pie

Pin It

I patted myself on the back hard for this one. Tamale pie! So exotic! (Nevermind that there are probably hundreds of similar tamale pie recipes) It's a casserole! It's a pie! It's... it's... something that I've made before. It was not until after we had dinner and I downloaded pictures onto my computer that I realized this tamale pie looks suspiciously like Southwest Surprise, a recipe that I made back in April of 2009. Well, count me... surprised.

So I don't have the best recall on the stuff that I've made before, but this was delicious. I added some chipotle peppers in the beans so they're just a little smoky and spicy. The end result was delicious and hearty with contrasting textures and flavors like fluffy sweet cornbread and creamy spicy beans. Probably not the most original recipe, but a good one nonetheless.

You'll need:
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (cheddar would be great here too)
  • chopped cilantro (optional garnish)
  • 1 recipe of Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread (I used soy milk instead of buttermilk and Earth Balance instead of butter. Worked out great)
Begin by heating up canola oil in a heavy medium pot until the fat shimmers. Add red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onion and bell pepper. Stir and allow vegetables to cook until they are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add green chilies, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, black beans, pinto/red kidney beans and water. Season. Stir and bring liquid to simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for another 15 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced and thickened.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for cornbread. You can also use boxed corn bread mix, just prepare up to the point prior to baking. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer the beans and vegetables into a baking dish. Spread out the mixture evenly to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Pour cornbread mix on top. Spread to create even surface. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove and allow tamale pie to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash

Pin It

I expect my next few food posts to feature orange colored food. Because it's that time of the year -- the time when we get orange produce like sweet potato, butternut squash, pumpkin and, well, orange. Today, we have a farro risotto with butternut squash. Farro has less starch (but more protein and fiber) than rice. So farro risotto doesn't have that creamy, viscous consistency that a rice risotto has. But it's slightly nutty and chewy. So, it's different and good for you. Of course, you can always replace the farro with rice if you want.

You'll need:
  • 2 cups of small diced butternut squash (1/3-inch cubes), about half of a medium butternut squash
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 tablespoons butter or butter subsitute (I use Earth Balance), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (toasted pine nuts would be good here too)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4-6 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
In a sauce pan, bring vegetable stock to boil. Keep the stock hot and simmering. In a separate large skillet fitted with a lid, melt 3 tablespoons of butter or butter substitute over medium low heat. Add shallot and sweat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and sage leaves. Toss gently until fragrant, about a minute. Add diced butternut squash. Allow it to cook for just a couple of minutes. Season with salt. Add white wine. Bring liquid to simmer and reduce.

Gently mix in farro. Add a cup of hot vegetable stock. Cover and simmer undisturbed for 5-8 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Allow the liquid to reduce. Add another cup of hot vegetable stock. Cover and simmer undisturbed for 5-8 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Allow liquid to reduce a bit. Add the final cup of hot vegetable stock with lemon juice and chopped walnuts. Season with salt. Gently stir. Cover and simmer for another 5 to 8 minuets. Remove lid and stir. Allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. Stir in a tablespoon of butter or butter substitute or grated Parmesan cheese (optional). Garnish with chopped parsley and/or grate Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.