Mahogany Tofu (aka Mock Au Vin)I fell down, down, down in a burning ring of tofu. Not shown: brisket, arugula salad, apples, gf noodle kugel, gf honeycake, gf bread. Raise your hand if you've got a brand-new celiac diagnosis in the house! [raises hand]Happy New Year, oh beloved ones. Not that I am very capital-J Jewish myself. More Jew-ish, as people say, raised as I was by a religion-hating Jew and an atheist disavowed Catholic. But I do love food and festivity, and I like to pick and choose my celebrations. Rosh Hashanah is a favorite, because brisket, which I am crazily good at making.
Okay, they weren't dressed up like mafia hitmen for the holiday. We went to a memorial over the weekend. My late, great friend Ali's brother Jeremy, who is my oldest living friend, lost his beautiful wife to ovarian cancer. Are you following along? The horror. We are heartbroken (despite some of us looking like we're about to tie a cinder block to somebody's foot).Even though I have zero patience anywhere else in my life—I am the person who breaks a new picture frame trying to tear the plastic off of it, who sighs sharply because it’s taking you longer than I think is strictly necessary to explain what you need me to do, who yells “Aaaaaaagh!” and waits for someone to run in and help me unjam the printer cartridge, which I’ve incorrectly wedged into the printer in some kind of fit—I have the patience to cook tough meat for a long time. A loooooong tiiiiime. I will post the brisket recipe sometime, but honestly? It’s basically my stewrecipe, adapted for a ginormous single piece of meat. You have to cook it for 5 or 6 hours. And you have to make it the day before, because otherwise forget about slicing it.
Also not related to the holiday. Have I mentioned my kids' book? Oh, I have? Sorry! Are these not the most wonderful pictures? Please send me yours! Please review the book on amazon and goodreads! And hey, if you can get it into the hands of someone at IKEA, will you please? Or reach out to me about it. (Reach out to me! Who even am I?)But, there were vegetarians in the house! Even beyond the usual Birdy. So I made our famous fancy tofu, which Michael and I have always festively called “Mock au Vin,” because it’s seasoned a lot like that chicken dish, minus the bacon. And minus the chicken. And plus orange, because why not? I kind of can’t believe I’ve never posted this recipe here. I think it is my favorite tofu recipe, which is saying a lot, because I have a number of near-favorites, like this. And this. And this. Ooh, and this one, that I stole from Jenny.
I doubled the recipe, naturally. Honestly, even for just four of us, I have to double the recipe.But it is really, really good: dark and tangy and salty, inoffensively winey and citrusy, a little buttery-rich and oniony, and with a lovely tender-firm bite when you, er, bite it. It’s also just fantastic cold or at room temperature. If you’ve ever made the . . . oh my god, I was looking it up for linking, and it’s not here! The Double-Soy Ginger Tofu. What? Oh, okay, it’s here. But I need to move it over too. Anyhoo, if you’ve ever made that, you’ll recognize the method. And the method is: give all that good flavor nowhere to go but into the tofu.
Shanah Tovah, my Jewish, Jew-ish, not-at-all-Jewish darlings. May the season and year ahead bring you every blessing. And may you call your senators and ask them to please, compassionately, oppose the new and terrifying Graham-Cassidy "healthcare" bill. xo
The blinding white pieces were not quite as blindingly like that in real life, but it's true I could have done a better job with even marinade distribution. Plus, I have a tilty oven rack.Mahogany Tofu (aka Mock au Vin)This is the tofu we make "for company," like the weird suburban ex-hippies that we are. To double the recipe, put it all in a giant roasting pan, as shown here, or simply use two lasagna-sized pans.
1 (14-ounce) block of extra-firm tofuJuice and grated zest of half an orange 1 shallot (or part of an onion), choppedBlack pepper½ cup red wine (chianti is a good choice) 1 tablespoon soy sauce2 tablespoons sherry vinegar1 teaspoon each sugar and kosher salt (or half as much table salt)¼ teaspoon dried thyme1 generous tablespoon butter
Drain the tofu, wrap it in a clean dish towel, and put something heavy on it. For me, this is a small cutting board that I then put the tea kettle or a can of tomatoes on; press the tofu for at least five minutes, but longer is better—up to an hour. You’re getting all the water out of it so that it will get really thirsty, and then it will greedily suck up all that delicious wine and juice and butter.
Heat the oven to 400 and grease a lasagna-sized baking dish.
Cut the tofu crosswise into twelve slices (this is easiest to do evenly if you cut it into quarters and then cut each quarter into thirds) and lay the slices in the pan, where they will just barely fit. Grate the orange zest over it, then sprinkle on the onion and give it a good grinding of black pepper.
Stir together the orange juice, wine, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, sugar, salt, and thyme, then pour this over the tofu and tilt the pan so that the liquid makes contact with all of the cut surfaces of the tofu. Dot the tofu with butter.
Bake until the liquid has completely evaporated and the tofu is a deep brown (the pan may start to look a bit burnt around the edges—don't worry), about 45 minutes. Allow to sit for fifteen minutes or so (it's firmer and tastier once it cools a bit) then eat.