Sunday, April 1, 2012

buffalo tofu bites.

The only person I ever really cook for is my terrible-vegan boyfriend. So, when my friend, B, who has been following my crazy vegan-ness said she wanted to come over for dinner one night, I wasn't sure WHAT to do. I considered suggesting we just go out to eat, after all NYC is chock full of vegan restaurants, or suggesting we order something in, again, thank you NYC for making that too simple. But, I realized that was silly and I not only loved a reason to cook up a feast, but it was darn time I shared this craze with someone else.

Of course, we had scheduled far in advance and I totally forgot until she reminded me a few days before. Shootshootshootshootshoot. I racked my brain on what to make.

I made old reliable - my AAB pasta - but wanted to make a few more things to keep us going all night, and to help keep the copious amounts of wine and skinnygirl margarita in check.

I'm a huge fan of finger food and appetizers, dips, etc. So I went for it. B and I have always loved chicken wings, so I decided buffalo tofu would have to do.

I googled a few recipes but didn't really love any of them + B eats gluten free so I knew I'd have to adapt. I also realized one of the best things about buffalo wings is the dressing you dip them in -- I tried to make a ranch-ish substitute. The result was incredible. We ate the entire batch, a whole block of tofu. They were so good, I made them again the next day and when I came home to eat them, terrible vegan boy had eaten them all. As for the "ranch", well, it didn't taste like ranch really, but it was delicious and I smothered it all over everything for the next few days.

Buffalo Tofu Bites with Not-Really-Ranch Dressing
for the tofu:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed to drain as much of the liquid out as possible
  • 1 cup of unsweeted, unflavored soy milk
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup flour - the first time, I used brown rice flour (so it was gluten free), the second time I used part brown rice flour and part whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (optional) -- I left these out when I made them gluten free
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt - or garlic powder and salt
  • 2 tbsp Earth balance butter/margarine/soy spread
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
-First, press the life out of your tofu. I put paper towels on a plate, put the block of tofu, covered it with paper towels and another plate, and then stacked three books on top. I found Harry Potter #5, 6, and 7 worked wonders for it. I pressed it for at least an hour, switching the paper towels each time they were soaked through

-Once pressed, cut the tofu into 2 bite size cubes or triangles. I used and much preferred the triangles.

-Mix the soy milk, the cornstarch, and the 2tbsp of hot sauce together in a bowl. Make sure its mixed well and then the cornstarch isn't in a glob on the bottom.

-In another bowl, mix together the flour, panko (if using), cayenne, paprika, and garlic salt.

-At this point, everything on your table should be a weird pink color

-Throw some of your tofu cubes into the soy milk mixture, coat completely and then drop them into the flour mixture to coat. Put onto a separate clean plate.

-Do this with all of your tofu. Cover the plate and refrigerate at least an hour (or until you're ready to cook and eat)

-Preheat oven to 375.

-Melt the earth balance butter in the microwave, mix in the hot sauce and the water.  

Sidenote: typical buffalo sauce recipes are equal parts butter and hot sauce, I tried to cut down on the butter by adding water, which I think worked well. Feel free to omit the water and just use the butter. 

And if you need or want more sauce, the proportion of butter : hot sauce should be 1 : 1 - or butter : water : hotsauce should be 2 : 1 : 3. 

-Put the coated tofu on a lightly greased non stick baking pan.

-Drizzle the half of hot sauce over the top

-Cook at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or so.

-Take them out and flip them, pour the rest of the hot sauce over the top, and bake an additional 15 minutes.

 **I found that the ones that I used the panko in were a bit drier and you may want to add a bit more hot sauce to the top.

-Drizzle with additional hot sauce, if desired, again using the same ratios (butter : hot sauce, 1 : 1) or (butter : water : hot sauce, 2 : 1 : 3)

Vegan Not Really Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
  • 1/4 cup water / soy milk
  • about a quarter of a package firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp veganaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp agave
  • 1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
-Blend the cashews, tofu, soy milk, water, veganaise in a food processor.

-Add the spices and seasonings
and puree them in.

-Note: I used fresh dill, and I only used about a tbsp because its all I could get off of my aerogarden plant without killing it, but I think I would have used more if I could have gotten my hands on it. I think adding some dried dill would have worked as well, as a tbsp would have been enough. I'll adjust next time.

Sidenote: this recipe makes a dressing that is ideal for dipping. When I wanted
to use it on my salad, I took some out and
whisked in a bit of water to thin it out
and make it more ideal to use on a salad

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