Tofu

A summer zucchini soup in a curry-coconut broth

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Today, I leave you with something short.

The first zucchini I ever saw, I killed it with a hoe.”
— John Gould, Monstrous Depravity: A Jeremiad & a Lamentation about Things to Eat, 1963

This soup is one of my favorite dishes. We leave for Guatemala tomorrow and I could not be more excited (stayed toned on a future post featuring.... I don't know... Guatemalan chocolate maybe?). I've been frantically trying to eat up garden produce before we leave. Nothing is sweeter than summer squash straight from the vine (well, maybe summer tomatoes). This dish originally started with making Hedi Swanson's summer squash soup found in her Super Natural Every Day. The first time I made it was when I was living in Charleston, SC. I've been making it for 3 summers now and it has adapted into my own dish. I hope you do the same to yours :).


Recipe (Serve 4 large servings or 6 small)

Curry paste

Turmeric root (fresh) - 2 small numbs, peeled, about 2 - 3 TB

Hot pepper - 1 (deseeded), chopped in half. (I've used every type of hot pepper here. I've tried jalapeño, ghost pepper, habanero, and thai pepper. My favorite is actually the ghost pepper but used whichever pepper you have or to your heat preference.

Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled

Ginger root (fresh) - One small numb, peeled, 1-2 TB

Miso - 2tsp (I used yellow miso)

Soy sauce  - 1 TB (I used tamari)

Shallot - 1 small shallot, peeled  coarsely chopped (I've also used a few TB of red onion when I did not have shallot around)

Lemongrass (fresh) - 1 - 2 small stalks of lemongrass. The papery outer layers discarded. You only want to use the soft/tender inner parts of the lemongrass.

* Place all the curry paste ingredients in a small blender or food processor. I use a small "magic bullet" type blender for this... it just works so well! Blend until smooth & set aside for later.

Soup

Coconut oil - 4.5TB

Vegetable broth - 2.5 cups

Coconut milk - 16 ounce can (I used light but regular would taste wonderful too)

Zucchini - 1 large zucchini, cut into thin half moons

Yellow squash - 1 small, cut into thin half moons

Tofu (extra firm) - pressed & cut into medium chunks

Soy sauce - 1.5 Tb (I used tamari)

Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup, halved

Red onion - 1/4 a small red onion, slivered

Eggplant (optional) - I had a few baby eggplants that I added this time ( 3 baby eggplants), sliced really thin, like 1/8 an inch.

Fresh basil - chopped (any type if basil will work)

Salt - to taste

* Chop up all your ingredients. Place the squashes, eggplant (if using), and red onion in a bowl together. The tofu & cherry tomatoes can remain separate. Place 1.5 Tb of coconut oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add all of your squash mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5-8 mins. Until all the vegetables are tender but still have a little crunch. You don't want them too watery & soft. Dump the vegetables back out into a bowl.

Place the skillet back over heat and add 2 TB of coconut oil. Add in your tofu and cook on high, tossing frequently, until the tofu gets brown & crispy. After about 5 - 10 mins of crisping up the tofu add in the soy sauce & toss to combine. Dump out the tofu into the bowl with the squash. Then return the skillet to medium heat & add in your cherry tomatoes. Cook for a min or two until blistered. Then dump into the bowl with the rest of your veggies.

Then get out a medium pot & heat it over medium high heat. Add in your last TB of coconut oil. Once it is hot add in all of your curry paste. Stir to combine & let bubble for 1 min. Then pour in your coconut milk. Stir to combine and let it cook for a min or two, until the coconut milk starts to bubble around the edges. Then add in your veggie broth. Let cook for a few more mins, until the broth is thoroughly heated through & bubbling. Add in your basil (reserve some basil for the top - if desired) & salt to taste (remember the miso & soy sauce is already pretty salty). Distribute the vegetable/ tofu mixture into four bowls. Distribute the brother into the four bowls evenly. Sprinkle basil on top, if using.

Enjoy!

* If you are saving leftovers, I would store the veggies & the broth in separate containers.

Tofu-q with a habanero, apricot bbq sauce + avocado & cabbage slaw.

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I'm sitting here in a coffee shop near my house enjoying a big cookie and a cappuccino, with two dogs at my feet, and acting like I've been a Denver resident my whole life. Ok... maybe thats how I feel but, in reality, I probably don't look that way.  Especially when I get on the light rail and ride 10 minutes before I realize I should have been on the bus, abandon mission, and trek half-way through the city by foot. This coffee shop has some parallels to the shop I worked in during college, so I really like it. It serves up giant cookies like the onces we baked, has comically large milk pitchers, offers you drinks in pint glasses meant for beer, has a large loose leaf tea selection, friendly baristas, bakes in-house, is next door to a bar, has a well-loved and welcomed slightly-crazy, semi-homeless person who leaves his bag behind the counter, is not over-decorated, really needs new tables/chairs, and serves up decent coffee with good foam but without the fancy, high-coffee style that comes with perfect pours. Give me a single shot cappuccino in a small cup spilling over with foam and I'm happy. 

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Anyways, I'm getting use to this place. Denver that is, not just the coffee shop. Although I do miss the trees and my dogs miss the grass. Don't get me wrong. There are lots of trees planted in Denver and it is a beautiful, green, cheery place but I'm use to being able to drive 5 or 10 minutes down the road and let myself and my dogs free and go trail running through a deciduous forest. I miss that... those plants and trees are friends I have left behind. Even though my dogs miss grass (it is too dry of a place to grow grass in dog parks and waste precious water resources by watering a lawn solely meant for dogs to pee on... which is a responsible thing for the city to do) they have so much to do, see, smell here. Everyone loves dogs and almost everyone has dogs. Seriously, our first morning here was an insane welcome with the manager of the restaurant we brunched at buying us "welcome to Denver, we love dogs cocktails" and providing us a list of dog-friendly Denver activities. 

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Last weekend we took advantage of the holiday weekend since Ty had Monday off work and we headed out towards The Great Sand Dunes National Park for some camping.  On Saturday we camped at a place called The Orient Land Trust where they have natural hot springs. This true, off-grid community can be found several miles off the highway on a dirt road. You know those types of roads that make you feel like you are in a secret, secluded place as the dirt kicks up around your car in a cloud that streams down the road as the largest feature in a broad, flat landscape. It is a special place. We were hoping to get a walk-in camping spot even though no one answered our morning call. Being Memorial Day weekend we arrived to find all the camping spaces filled up, they have a strict daily entry limit, and I was still hoping we could sweet-talk in a place for our tent. Fortunately they let us pitch our tent at some of the trail heads but we were not allowed to go to the hot springs. It was a little disappointing but more than understandable, we did take some beautiful hikes and watched the low-horizon sun play rumpelstiltskin on all the desert plants by turning them to gold before our eyes.  The rockies were dark silhouettes with a sunset cloak patterned in never-ending colors. Gawking over the sunset our dogs pricked up their ears and turned in the direction of the howling coyotes nearby and watched eagerly at the deer and elk grazing. We had the whole place to ourselves and in that moment we were the only ones. 

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The next day we woke up early and got to the sand dunes around 8 in the morning, before the welcome center even opened. I've been to a similar desert before and I know how hot the sand can turn under the fierce afternoon sun. There was only a handful of people at the dunes so early, lucky for us. (If you plan on going I recommend going early. When we left there was a streaming tail of cars filled with impatient faces waiting to get in.) We trekked the dunes from 8-12 and banjo sniffed the sand, pawed at it playfully and ran around in circles like she does in the snow. We kept climbing up big peaks, pausing to take in the view and then sprinted in a path straight down the dunes as fast as we could, with both hands failing in the air. Eventually we had to turn back even though each new dune peak was taunting us; begging to be climbed. The sand heated up and we had left our shoes behind at the car, while puppy paws had received an exfoliation treatment better than any spa could do. I love the duney desert, the grit in the air, salt in your mouth, and the wind in your hair. Leaving the dunes you resolve to an awe over how diverse and beautiful this country is. I've now seen this country from tippy-top north to low-country south and from east to almost west; it is truly magnificent. The weekend was for the spirit of remembrance, and gratefulness. Despite the bad, we have a whole country filled with beautiful things to be grateful for.

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On memorial day we felt a responsibility to use our roommates grill. After-all, it was Memorial Day, we are American, and neither of us had lived with a real grill before. Still sandy and with skin warm-to-the-touch, these spicy, tofu-q's with a cooling slaw hit the spot. You really want to factor in at least a few hours of marinating time, you can even leave it in the refrigerator overnight. 

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Tofu & sauce recipe (Makes 2 big ones) 

Buns - 2 buns

Extra firm tofu package - Pressed for 30 minuets and then sliced thinly.

Habaneros - 3, chopped (I didn't take the seeds out but you can)

Apricot - 1, peeled/sliced (I think you could use 2 without it being too fruity tasting)

Onion - scant 1/2 a sweet, yellow onion, chopped. 

Tomatoes - 2, chopped

Tomato paste - 6oz can

Garlic - 3-4 cloves, chopped

Honey - 2-3 TB

Apple cider vinegar - 1Tb

Liquid smoke - 1tsp optional (vegetarian version)

Chile powder - 2tsp or 1TB - depending on your desire for spiciness. 

Cinnamon - scant 2tsp

Paprika - 2tsp

Salt- to taste (about 1-2tsp for me) 

Slaw recipe - also makes a good side

Purple cabbage - about 1/6 a small head of cabbage, slivered

Onion - 1/4 an onion, slivered

Avocado - 1, sliced

Limes - 2, juiced

Salt - to taste

 

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Press the tofu for about 30 minutes. Once pressed, sliced into thin "patties" the size of the tofu block. While the tofu is pressing make the sauce. Chop up all your vegetables. Place the olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add your garlic and onions and let it cook for a few minutes, until slightly soft. Add in your habaneros and apricots and let cook for a few more minutes until soft. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until well combined and let cook for 3-5 minutes until soft, slightly bubbling, and evenly dispersed. Then add in all the rest of the ingredients and let cook for a few more minutes, until just fragrant. Add the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Adding in some water if needed to bring the sauce to the desired consistency. Taste and adjusted spices. Layer the tofu in between a generous amount of bbq sauce, making sure all the tofu is covered. Let it marinate on the counter for several hours (2-3 at least) or overnight in the fridge. The extra bbq can be stored for later use (think veggie kabobs or pizza sauce).

Heat up the grill (or grill pan) and cook the tofu straight on the grill (rubbed down with a little oil since tofu can stick) or cook on top of bamboo skewers on the grill (soaking the skewers in water for a hour first). Cook the tofu for about 5 minutes on each side. Brush over some more bbq sauce after flipping. We even threw our burger buns on the grill for 1 minute to crisp them up.

For the slaw, toss together the onion and cabbage. Add in the avocado and stir, slightly mashing up the avocado among the slivers of onion and cabbage. Squeeze over the lime and season with salt.  

To assemble the burger spread a little of the paprika aioli below (admit for vegan), top with strips of tofu and then pile on a good bit of slaw on top. No shame in adding some more bbq sauce too... bbq is suppose to be messy. Serve with grilled asparagus. 

 

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Grilled asparagus recipe + paprika aioli

Asparagus - 1lb with 1 inch of the ends trimmed off

Olive oil - 2Tb

Salt/pepper- to taste

Egg yolk - 1 large egg yolk

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - several TB

Paprika - scant 1 tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

Pumpkin seeds - a handful, coarsely chopped (optional) .

To make the aioli add in the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt into a small bowl. Beat with a whisk. Slowly drizzle in the oil in a very small, steady stream while whipping with a whisk. The aioli with start to thicken up and lighten as you whisk. I let my aioli get to about a medium consistency since I didn't need much and didn't want to use too much oil. Add in the paprika and more salt and pepper if necessary. Whip until combined.

Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Lay on a pre-heated grill and cook several minutes, rotating the spears with tongs. You want the asparagus to get soft, a little brown in spots, but still retain a slight crunch. Lay the asparagus on a tray, top with some aioli and the sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

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Brussels sprouts, crispy tofu, & mustard vinaigrette salad

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After sorrows such as Monday's there are few things I feel like doing, cooking especially, and most likely most of the country is with me. I huddle on the bottom of the tub with my knees hugged to my chest with the warm shower flowing over my head, crying. I ask over and over why; everyone asks why. We keep asking because there is no way to comprehend it, it is so against human nature. Not only this event, but all of them in our country, in other countries. None are more tragic than another. We are so compelled to find reason in the madness. Some way to understand the hate and violence. There is so much violence all around the world fueled by hate, terrorism, sexism, racism, politics, and none of the tragedies from these crimes ever leaves us. Sometimes we forget tragedies that happen to our brothers and sisters around the world until something like this happens so close to home. But really, no matter the reason why, there is no way to understand it. It doesn't make sense. There is no justification for such a horrid acts of hate. The only way to combat it is love. Love for the victims, love for the families, love for our community, love for our country, love for the world. Hearing the stories of love, empathy, and heroism that came out of the chaos is a bit of hope. Witnessing the true human spirit coming out to offer love and support and to hear the reactions and the responses of victims is amazing. I hope that people will spread the love they share with their neighbors and apply it to the rest of the world, we need it. It is the only thing that helps the soul heal and calm down. For all the hate and insanity from people in this world, there is more love. 

“Some people care too much. I think it's called love.” - Pooh

I made this salad last week. It takes me a bit to get back up and feel like cooking after all my emotions are drained. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. 

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Recipe (Serves 4) 

1 bunch brussels sprouts (1lb) - Red brussels or regular. Sliced (I cut each into 1/6ths)

Yellow onion - 1/2, chopped. 

1 package tofu - cut into small cubes and pre-pressed if desired.

Tarragon - 1-2 healthy springs, chopped fine

Slivered almonds - scant 1/4 cup

Peptias (Pumpkin seeds) - a handful. 

Lemon - Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil - 3TB

Coconut oil - 2TB

White wine vinegar - 2tsp

Dijon mustard - about 2tsp

Honey - 1-2tsp

Salt/pepper - to taste

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Trim off the ends, and chop up the brussels sprouts into slices or into 6ths. Place in bowl and toss with 2TB olive oil and salt/pepper. Spread onto baking sheet and bake in oven for about 20 minuets, tossing half way through.  During the last 5 minutes, spread out the almonds on a separate pan and toast in the oven for the last 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile heat up a large skillet with 2TB of coconut oil on high heat (or olive oil, but in this case, on medium heat). Once hot add in your already pressed and cubed tofu. Toss in the oil and fry until crispy and golden. About 5-10 minutes. 

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Once Brussels sprouts and tofu is cooked, toss together in a bowl along with the chopped onion, tarragon, toasted almond slivers, and pepitas. Whisk together the honey, dijon mustard, and white wine vinegar. Then slowly drizzle in the 1-2TB of olive oil while whisking until you have reached your desired dressing consistency. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Lastly, squeeze over some fresh lemon juice, toss and distribute into bowls. If desired, top with a little extra tarragon.

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Vegetarian ramen with homemade noodles

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I never really did the whole college ramen cuisine thing. Not because I didn't eat easy, packaged food, I did. I was just way too weight concerned (with incorrect nutritional knowledge) that I wouldn't make a habit of a whole meal out of carbs (still a good habit not to do). I missed the boat on the ramen train, admittedly, I'm a little sad about it. Recently, we took a weekend trip into DC. We went to the United States Botanical Gardens, The National Museum of the American Indian, did a lot of walking around, visiting memorials, flea market, Sigur rós show, ate at a great Indian restaurant, crêperie, and an El Salvadorian pupusaria. Although I have this image stuck in my head from a magazine about DC's 100 best restaurants. One of them being a restaurant that sold traditional Japanese ramen. Oh my stars it looked good. Ty glanced at it and responded, "I want that." Yes Ty, so do we all. 

This is my version of traditional Japanese ramen that is not so traditional. Traditional ramen varies in the type of broth, a fish broth, pork broth, soy sauce broth, or miso broth. There are some borrowed flavors from pho broth here, but also I combined the soy sauce and miso style broths into one. I also took my hand at making homemade noodles. They were very good and easy to make even though I do not have a pasta machine. Feel free to buy regular ramen noodles too!

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Recipe (Makes 4 bowls)

Veggie broth - Great time to use your own if you have, you want it tasty.

Lemon grass - two stalks, sliced

Star Anise - 3

Tofu - 1/2 brick sliced into squares

Kale - 1 bunch torn off the stem into pieces

Crimini mushrooms - 5 or 6 sliced mushrooms

Radish - 3 radishes slivered

Green onions - 2 or 3 slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves

Eggs - 2 soft boiled (5 minuets)

Sesame oil - 3TB 

Mirin - 1TB

Yellow miso - 1TB

Soy sauce - 2TB

Rice vinegar - 1TB + 1tsp

Sriracha - to top

For the Noodles

All Purpose Flour - 1 Cup

Egg yolk - 1

Baking soda - 1tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Water - 1/4 cup + a few TB

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Make the noodles. Mix together the flour, salt, & baking soda in a bowl. Make a well in the center and egg in the egg yolk. Pour in 1/4cup of water in the well. Using your fingers mash up the egg yolk with the water and stir into a slurry, slowly incorporating the flour. Adding in another tablespoon at a time until all the dough sticks together but before it sticks on your hands. Knead the dough with your hands for several minutes. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in a little extra flour. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes at least but an hour would be better. Go on with the rest of the meal. When the dough is done roll out the dough into a long rectangle as thin as you can get it. Lightly flour the rectangle and fold it in half, hotdog style. Take a very sharp knife and slice into very thin noodles, mine were about 1/8" thick. Unfold the thin noodles and lay out flat to dry for a bit. 

Heat up the veggie broth with the lemongrass and star anise and let it simmer/ low-boil for 30 minutes at least. While the broth is simmering, prepare the rest. Heat up 2TB of sesame oil in a large skillet on high heat and then toss in the tofu. Toss and flip for 5 minutes or so until they turn golden. Add in 1TB of tofu and stir until combined. Dump out the tofu into a bowl and add in the last TB of oil. Add in the garlic and sliced mushrooms, cook for about five minutes until it colors a bit. Add kale (in two batches) cooking for a few minutes until wilted and all the kale can fit into the pan. Add in 1TB of mirin and stir until combined. Pour out into a bowl. Strain out the broth and place back into the pot and keep on low heat, do not let it boil at this point. Add in 1TB of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and miso. Whisk until combined. Heat up a medium salted pot of water to a low boil. Add in the noodles and the whole eggs and cook for 5 minutes after they get back up to a low boil until done. Run the eggs under cool water.

Distribute the noodles into four bowls and ladle over some broth. Top with some of the kale/mushroom mixture on one side, sliced radishes on the other, tofu cubes in the center, and then sprinkle over some scallions. Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half carefully, the yolk will still be runny. Place an egg half in each bowl and squeeze over some sriracha.

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Tofu, mushroom, mole tacos

Tacos. 

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We LOVE tacos. Let me go ahead and promise you, there will be a plenty more of taco recipes to come. You just can't beat them. You can make endless varieties and tacos are fit for a million different seasonal creations. Cumin squash and chickpea cilantro, grated zucchini with lime spiked black beans, tofu al pastor, mushroom tacos, and so many more. Plus, they are great for having people over, everybody can assemble their own - great for picky eaters. A good friend of mine told me once that pie is the perfect food (I mean you can make a big one, a small one, a sweet one, a savory one!) and I would agree if it weren't for tacos. These tacos take a bit longer to make than the usual tacos I prefer but they are worth it! The following recipe was adapted from this recipe, which I made once a long time ago. I added mushrooms in this one, which was so good that next time I will make it with just mushrooms. 

Tortillas, they never last a long time in our house. Used up in wraps, with hummus, or our favorite - huevos rancheros. Here I made corn tortillas which are tasty and easy, but flour are fine as well. (I won't lie, I love the standard international section flour tortillas.) Also, I should mention this is pretty spicy but I gave tips to make it less spicy if you need.

Please make these sometime - you'll thank me.  

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Recipe (This makes a ton! Eat as many tacos as you will, save for leftovers, or freeze. Tacos comin' out o yo ears!) 

Tofu extra firm - 2 packages (cut into cubes)

Mushrooms - I had 1/2 container of button mushrooms left. Quartered

Yellow onion - 1 large onion, chopped.

Olive oil - several TB. (2-3) 

Garlic - 4 cloves, minced.

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - (I used 7oz of La Morena brand) *see note

Cumin - 1TB

Coriander - 2tsp

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Cloves - 1/2tsp

Chile power - 2tsp

Unsweetened cocoa powder - 3TB

Molasses - 1TB

Peanut butter - 2TB

Tomato paste - 6oz can

Vegetable broth - 2 1/2 cups

Honey (or agave if vegan) - 1TB

Guacamole (I know everybody has their favorite but, just in case) 

Avocado - 2

Garlic - 3 cloves minced

Red onion - 1/4 of a large once, chopped small

Tomato - 1/2 chopped (if in season)

Cilantro - 1/2cup loosely packed, minced

Jalapeno - 1 minced (seeds removed if you don't like spicy) 

Limes - juice of two limes

Salt to taste - a few good pinches.  

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Corn tortillas (makes 12 6" tortillas) 

Masa Harina - 2 cups ( I used bob's red mill masa harina & recipe) 

Salt - 1/2tsp

Hot water - 1 1/2cups (you might want a little extra water too) 

 *Some chipotle pepper in adobo brands are much spicier than others, all of them being spicy. Taste the adobo sauce and tone this ingredient amount down if you think you need too. This recipe is fairly spicy but remember some of the spiciness will be cut with the chocolate, molasses, tomato paste, honey, and peanut butter. 

Preheat over to 475 degrees. Put a kettle of water on the stove or heat up 2 cups of water on the stove until just boiling. Get your tofu out and set it out to press (see technique in this post) . Mix together salt and masa harina. Once water is hot, slowly pour in 1 1/2cups of the hot water, stirring simultaneously with a wooden spoon until it forms a thick ball. A few dry bits are ok. Add a little extra water if you feel you need more, I didn't.  You don't want this too wet, kind of like the texture of corn grits that have been left out too long and are kind of hard. Leave it on the counter to sit while you do everything else.

Chop up all your mole ingredients, including the chipotles in the adobo, to have the on hand. Once tofu is pressed (it is also not the end of the world if the pressing step is skipped) then cut into 1/2 inch - 1 inch cubes. Toss with 1-2TB of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes (on the longer side if unpressed) until golden. Flip every 15 minutes. 

Heat up large, deep skillet in 1-2TB of olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and onions. Let soften and get fragrant for several minutes. Add chipotle peppers and all the adobo sauce, along with all the spices. Cook for several more minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except tofu and mushrooms). Simmer for 20 minutes. Put in a blender and process until smooth. Pour back into a pan and add tofu. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add mushrooms. Simmer for another 10. 

While sauce is simmering, make the guacamole. Mash together the avocado and garlic. Stir in onion, jalapeno, tomato, and cilantro. Squeeze in lime juice and sprinkle with salt, stir and taste until happy! 

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Heat up a skillet on high heat on the stove top. Take out the masa harina "dough" ball and divide into 12 wedges. Roll each wedge into a ball. Place a piece of wax paper on the bottom of the tortilla press. On top of the wax paper, place a ball in the center of the press. Squeeze the press down to flatten. Add into the hot skillet. Let cook until just starting to golden a minute or two on each side. Repeat with all 12.

Assemble the tacos! Add spoonfuls of mole on the corn tortillas, top with guacamole, and sprinkle with extra cilantro and fresh squeeze of lime juice. Tastes better when served with a margarita. 

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A scented rutabaga soup for that last cold front.

Rutabagas. 

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I love soup. I really think I could have a cup of soup, a light salad, and a good crunchy piece of bread with a smear of butter for most meals. There will be plenty more soup recipes to come in our time together, hopefully it will be a long one, but as we are approaching warming months we have to temporarily part with beloved soup. I'm sorry soup, its not you, its me, but I am sure we'll have a fling or two this summer. Rutabagas are such an interesting vegetable. They are beautiful too... and I am a sucker for anything even the slightest bit purple. I've made this soup over and over, it is fantastic. I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook Lucid Food. The ingredients here are slightly different and I change the texture of the soup quite a bit, which I think makes all the difference, but she has beautiful recipes and this soup is brilliant. Star anise and rutabaga - who knew? 

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Recipe (serves 4) 

Rutabaga - 3 cups peeled and diced

Shiitakes - About 1 scant cup chopped

Tofu - 14oz pressed and cubed

Vegetable broth - 4 cups *see note*

Shallots - 2 small, minced

Scallions - 1 bunch

Garlic - 2 cloves minced

Ginger - 1 inch numb minced

Star anise - 4 stars

Soy Sauce - 4TB

Oil - 5TB (I used coconut here for the tofu and sesame in the soup)

White pepper - 1/2Tsp generous

Rice vinegar, scallion greens, and red pepper flakes for toppings

*This recipe would be a great time to pull out any homemade vegetable broth (mushroom or any broth you have). The flavor is pretty imparted on the soup here. I happen to have some broth in my freezer I had made with significant rutabaga peelings and other roots. I like to save all my vegetable trimmings from the week and make a vat of broth.

I like to press my tofu when I have the time, or when I am frying it. It gets out the extra water so that the tofu is crisper and takes less time to pan fry. Wrap your tofu in a kitchen towel, set on a cutting board our counter and place books on top. You can do this for several hours if needed - but at least 20 minutes. Move on to prepare your soup.

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Separate you scallion "meats" from the whites and slice each thinly into slivers. Mince up your garlic, mince your shallot, and peel/cube your rutabaga into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Toss in garlic, shallots and scallions whites, let infuse and soften for a minute. Add your rutabaga, white pepper, star anise, and 2TB of soy sauce. Cook for just a few minutes. Add the stock and let boil softly for 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is very tender. 

While rutabaga is boiling and tofu is pressing mince up your ginger and trim/cube your shiitakes. Once tofu is ready slice it into about 1/2inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of coconut, sesame, or olive oil in a skillet on medium-high/high heat. Add your tofu. Cook tofu, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden, about 5-10 minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add in another TB of oil, your ginger, and shiitakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until aromatic and shiitakes are tender. Pour over about 2TB of soy sauce and stir until absorbed. 

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Back to the rutabaga. Remove the 4 star anise - they should be floating. Pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pot and taste, season with salt. I usually do not need any - soy sauce is pretty salty and you are adding the tofu/shiitakes, keep this in mind. Ladle soup into bowls and place spoonfuls of the tofu/shiitake mixture in the center. Top with scallion greens, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of rice vinegar. Yum!

Even wolf pups like rutabagas. 

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