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March 17, 2012 / beeandtrumpet

Tofu Scramble & Advice for a Picnic

Tofu Scramble: Don't Want to Be Disappointed? Don't expect Eggs.

The very first thing I should say is that Tofu Scramble is not supposed to be eggs; it is supposed to be tofu, scrambled.  That said, it is lovely for breakfast, especially in the winter when hens lay far fewer eggs and decent ones can be hard to come by.  I would also say that it is great for vegans, who by unfortunate choice, or force of unfortunate allergies, must eschew many of the finest food stuffs, but (and this is a big one) my version relies heavily on the addition of feta cheese for richness, and elevated flavor, so I am not actually endorsing a vegan take on this.

One of these days I will get to a post on pressing tofu – a process that draws out water and opens the tofu up to better absorbtion of marinade or seasoning – but for now let’s just say it is nice to wrap some thick, even slices in a kitchen towel and set them under something heavy (another great use for How to Cook Everything – Vegetarian – or otherwise) for 20 minutes, or so, before proceeding with your recipe.

For this recipe I used The Bridge tofu, which (as pictured below) comes pre-pressed (though it still should be dried off by the above method), and sealed in a soft-pack.  White Wave also makes a nice version of pressed, firm-curd tofu, and this kind of stuff can almost always be found in wet bulk bins in Asian produce stores.  Pressed dry at home, this tofu will retain most of its bulk, whereas most hard-packed tofus will shrink by at least a third with proper pressing.  Pressed tofu crumbles to very firm curds and is great for pan frying – especially if you are trying to mimic ground meat for some reason or other.  However, you might actually prefer a silkier tofu for this recipe, as it can be considered a stand-in for scrambled eggs.  Personally, I rather like my scrambled eggs a little firm, too.

You will also need nutritional yeast for this recipe, don’t skip it, it is more than worth buying; with a drizzling of olive oil, and some finely ground salt, it is absolutely brilliant on fresh popped corn.  You will not miss the butter, and for me to say that is very serious indeed.

The Bridge Tofu: Bet You Didn't Know You Wanted Anything From Connecticut

This scramble is a variation on a recipe for ‘Stedda Scrambled Eggs (honest!) from a wacky cookbook I think was also culled from the deep, dirty bins at the Southie Goodwill – where you could buy hardcover bestsellers for 2 bucks, before they came out in paperback – thanks to a total lack of competition, and the absolute lack of appeal of said deep, dirty bins.  This book is called The American Vegetarian Cookbook: From The Fit for Life Kitchen and it is a riot.  I totally thought it was a throwback, leftover from the healthfood craze of the 1970’s, but when I finally looked at the copyright (this morning), I was shocked to see the 1990 publication date.  I have probably owned it since about then, and it has always looked like it has been living real hard since 1973.

Tofu Scramble*

Material

1 tbsp(ish) olive or grape-seed oil

1lb extra firm tofu (preferably pressed), thick sliced, and dried of excess water

1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp granulated garlic (just do it)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (ish) pureed tomato (Ideally, a large fresh plum tomato blitzed with the hand blender, but do what you must, I did.)

1/4 to 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (I like Bulgarian best)

1/4 cup scallion, sliced fine

Method

In a small prep bowl, combine the nutritional yeast, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, garlic, salt & pepper. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron (or other heavy) skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to shimmer, crumble in the tofu (mashing with a potato masher is also nice), and sauté, stirring frequently, until you get a little golden color here and there.  Sprinkle in the spice mixture and stir until throughly coated.

Pour in the tomato puree, things will boil, sizzle and the pan will deglaze.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly until all of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the feta, stir to mix and melt.  The feta should be melted away into the ‘sauce’ and disappear completely, this will only that a minute or two.  Toss in the scallion, stir to incorporate, remove from heat.  Taste.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

*For your picnic, the really brilliant use for this scramble is:

Curried ‘Egg’ Salad with Avocado, Wrapped

Materials

1 recipe Tofu Scramble, cooled (if you know this is where you are going with it, you may want to kick up the spice a bit)

1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, cut in a large dice

a handful of medium sized flour tortillas (4-6?)

Method

Make the filling: In a large bowl, gently combine the avocado pieces and the tofu scramble.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, you might also like some additional feta.

Wrap the filling in the tortillas, burrito-style, closing both ends.  Fix with toothpicks, placed roughly to mark out thirds.  Cut the wraps crosswise, in half, on a slight diagonal at the middle.

Pack in wax-paper baggies, two halves per, folded over at the ends and held with a bit of kitchen twine or a pretty-colored small elastic, of the type used for bundling herbs and scallions.

Voilà!

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14 Comments

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  1. ivalleria / Mar 17 2012 5:28 pm

    I love your dirty bin 70s cookbook. That is funny.

    • threefresheggs / Mar 17 2012 5:33 pm

      I was SO disappointed to find it wasn’t 1970’s at all. Here I was, believing that, all this time : (

    • threefresheggs / Mar 17 2012 5:36 pm

      P.S. I hate these new-post-emails, since I end up doing so much clean-up in the 25 minutes after-the-fact.

      • threefresheggs / Mar 17 2012 5:38 pm

        *hint*hint*, Editor-Lady.

  2. ivalleria / Mar 17 2012 11:48 pm

    What do you mean? What are you hinting? You are saying that it goes out too fast before you have time to mutz with it? Yeah I suppose so. I will look and see if there’s a way to change that.

    Anyway, I am not a believer in tofu but this does sound nice for a picnic and I am still laughing over the cookbook living hard since 1973. 🙂

    • threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 12:35 am

      If you saw this cookbook, and had a little read, it would not disappoint.

  3. threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 12:17 am

    I am only hinting that you should ignore the email, give my posts half an hour to breathe, then read them online.

  4. threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 2:28 am

    There once was this crazy, fabulous, famous restaurant in Downtown Boston. It was located essentially on the Central Artery, and deeply in the shadow of the infamous elevated I93, not where you are thinking, over by the Garden, or the North End, but – of all places – at the back door of the Financial District, which is an absolute ghost town in the evening/weekend. This place was, essentially, a cafeteria, complete with chinatown stye furnishings, a 16′ x 20′ photographic wall mural of the deep green forest, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the Central Artery (picture a cafeteria with a panoramic view of Hamilton Avenue). It was run by some orthodox Seventh-Day-Adventist Sect that ate only a strict vegan diet free of devilish stimulants like coffee, tea, or chocolate. All the ’employees’ were elfin in size, dressed exactly as you might expect dour cult members to be, and appeared to be intimately related.

    The ‘menu’ calendar was published monthly, and resembled nothing so much as the mimeographed public school cafeteria menus of my childhood. Not only in form, *but also in content*. Which is to say, Tuesday might feature ‘Fish’ Sticks, baked beans, potatoes gratin, and ‘chocolate’ ‘pudding’, Wednesday might be BBQ ‘Ribs’, mashed potatoes, greens and lemon custard. My friend Mary (who ate there all the time) waited patiently all month for ‘Tuna’ Salad. And so, you are thinking, “What the hell for, the spectacle of the madhouse?”

    No! I tell you, it was freakin’ great! Great! If you walked in there on any given Tuesday at lunch hour, it would be absolutely jamming, with serious banker-guys in seriously expensive suits, be-speckled technocrats and bureaucrats in tweed & polyester (respectively), and a healthy smattering of inky, dread-headed, devilishly handsome, half-clad bike couriers, none of whom had showered in a week. The real prize was the Brunch on Sunday; all you could eat for about 9 bucks. The tofu scramble was truly not so great (for real, not just ’cause mine is better) but the potatoes were among the best I’ve had, the pastries were really good, and there were mysterious and amazing eggless waffles with dairy-less whipped cream which drew all and sundry vegans from untold miles.

    Which brings me to the scene, the scene, the scene. Oh my. Picture this, you arrive at this crazy-arsed vegan mecca; hung-over, coffee-starved and dragging at, say 1:30 pm on Sunday afternoon. You pay your $8.95, get your little handwritten receipt, and retire to the dining room to lay claim to a table. The first thing your eye lights upon in the middle of the room is the 8 tables, pushed together, banquet-style, playing host to a large extend family of church-going black folk in their Sunday Best. Along the windows are a sizable contingent of the Jamaica Plain Grrl scene, in drag, or their pajamas, or both. In the opposite corner, the requisite bike couriers this place is never without loll about. In between a few tables of the equally dour-looking, clean-living, wanna-be-ascetic, yoga types. And of course you, you and your odd bunch of mismatched Art School/Fort Point pals. And that is it. Next thing you know, there you are (probably a little torched) not drinking coffee, eating delicious, amazing, handmade, vegan-cult-waffles and ‘sausage’ sietan in a Chinatown-esque dining room, full of church-crown ladies and lesbians in drag, with a view of the city’s dirtiest under-belly on one side and the enchanted green forest on the other.

    See? You are sorry you missed it, tofu and all.

    • threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 12:08 pm

      And – what I was trying to say was – that I fantasized that my wacky ‘healthfood’ cookbook came from there (metaphorically speaking), despite the obvious lack of 7th-Day-Sietan, and such (no sietan). The hard-living cookbook is full of ‘Stedda’ Chinese Chicken Salad, and Happy “Chicken” Burgers made of cabbage and squashed-up tofu (they’re pretty good, but you won’t believe me), and it predicts the current whole grain craze that currently has people who can’t boil water buying quinoa, farro, and wheatberries, pre-cooked, in Capri-Sun style, shelf-stable, plasti-aluminium packing at Trader Joe’s, and ‘making’ whole grains in the microwaves to go with their TJ’s TV dinners.

    • threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 3:23 pm

      BTW: The name of this little slice of Mars-on-Earth, was – of all things! – “The Country Life”. My limited research suggests that it *might* be true that all 7th-Day restaurants bear this name, but that doesn’t diminish the extra-special irony afforded by the location and clientele of the Boston incarnation.

  5. ivalleria / Mar 18 2012 2:36 pm

    ROTFFL (rolling on the fucking floor, laughing). I had no idea that you were going to combine food blogging with hate blogging the yuppies. We can be the first. Those vegan cult waffles sound awesome and delightful.

    I could go for the cabbage-tofu burgers except that tofu is an endocrine disruptor and not meant to be human food and I’m messed up enough. I like tofu, actually. It is good when it’s cooked well. It’s a flavor sponge, so why wouldn’t it be?

    I don’t even know what Capri Sun is, but I can imagine! LOL.

  6. threefresheggs / Mar 18 2012 3:09 pm

    The tofu-as-endocine-blocker science is more than a little flawed. I am not buying that fairly mildly processed beans are somehow turned into a vile poison in the works. The Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc. have been eating tofu for thousands upon thousands of years, and have generally fared far better than Europeans (a least until the height of urbanization and the Industrial Revolution) where wholesome diet is concerned.

    I attack not the yuppies (which would be embarrassed to be caught dead in a discount store like TJ’s), but the infernally lazy and unclear-on-the-concept whom, apparently, think they can purchase adherence to the slow-foods movement by purchasing (at a 1,200% mark-up) organic, non-gmo, free-trade, free-range, cruelty-free(?), pre-made, processed ‘polenta’ in a plastic sausage casing.

    But since you asked, yes, I do strongly believe that food is the very front line of class warfare.

  7. ivalleria / Mar 18 2012 10:56 pm

    If we are conducting class warfare, Lance and I both might have to develop pseudonyms. you know we met at BOARDING SCHOOL>

  8. lanceblair / Mar 19 2012 2:46 am

    As I am late to the Rolling Rally that is this amazing thread (and amazing recipe!) it’s perplexing to know where to start.

    Yes, that Financial District joint sounds wonderful – and good Vegan Eating can bring out the best in American Multiculturalism. E PLURIBUS YUM YUM. It might all be a bit compartmentalized and not a true ‘melting pot’…but it ‘s still co-existing and enjoying the same things and delicious food, even if the participants aren’t completely consciously aware of it in a meaningful or progressive way.

    No pseudonym needed on my part…if you want to conduct Class Warfare by the tsp. but can’t recruit BOARDING SCHOOL turncoats, then you might as well pick up your toys and go home! Count me in. I’m a total class switch-hitter – made easier by the fact that I’m not exactly up to hiding accounts offshore (yet). Food is essential to class, so let’s have at it…especially since we’re a Collective!

    Yes, I went to a SCHOOL where they taught me BOARDING. Ach, I’m a right like Class Act, me.

    People who can’t boil water buying quinoa? I’m reaching for extra tissues to wipe away the tears!

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