What are you smoking_ tofu_ – the washington post

By Jane Touzalin October 21 Follow @janetouzalin

Ever try to pipe out a perfect macaron? Temper chocolate? Make puff pastry? No question: Pastry chefs are culinary heroes. Case in point is Alex Levin, executive pastry chef at Osteria Morini in Navy Yard and the subject of Bonnie S. Benwick’s story this week. His deconstructed desserts are intricate and amazing. Colleagues call him a mensch, and he proves it by giving

us three of his recipes, including the one for his amazing brownies. Read all about it here.

Also in Food, Alice Medrich says you’re not baking at your best unless you’re using a kitchen scale. Got a bunch of excuses for why you don’t have one? She has an answer for each one of ’em.

[More Chat Leftovers: Ice cream, no churning; barley, hulled vs. pearled]

And there’s so much more, which you can find at the ever-changing washingtonpost. com/food. If you don’t have our home page bookmarked, what can I say? You’re missing out.

But don’t miss out on today’s Free Range chat, when both Alex Levin and Alice Medrich will be on hand to answer your questions. They’ll be joined by Leanne Brown, author of a book to help low-income cooks produce delicious meals on $4 a day and who talked with Joe Yonan last week about thrifty shopping and eating. And as if that weren’t enough, we’ll have our usual book giveaway. So join in! Be here at noon sharp and plan on spending the hour with us. Bonus: At 1, you can chat with cookbook author Dorie Greenspan about her “Everyday Dorie” column and even more baking issues.

Need something to tide you over until then? Here’s a leftover question from a few weeks ago that I’ve been storing — covered, at room temperature — for just this moment:

We’re going to smoke a pork butt, and now our vegetarian daughter will be coming to dinner. How do we smoke tofu? For meat, we normally do a rub, smoke a few hours, then wrap in foil and finish in the oven overnight. That’s not going to work for tofu. Can we use the same rub? Can we smoke, then chill and reheat later?

Well. With Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin at my disposal, I’d be crazy not to have him answer this one. So I lobbed it his way, and what follows is his response:

“Sorry we missed your dinner, but the holidays are not as far away as they seem, and it’s never too early to start thinking about the traditional Thanksgiving smoked tofu.

“You can use whatever rub you like, but remember that tofu is basically a vehicle for the flavors around it. So you might want to go light on the hot spices.

“And tofu isn’t a pork shoulder, so go light on the smoke. Use about a half-cup of wood chips (apple for mild, sweet smoke, oak for a mellow smoke) to flavor the tofu, which should be placed, unwrapped, on the cool side of an indirect fire. Smoke for about a half-hour at 225 to 250 degrees or until it turns lightly brown. Of course, you can just put it on with the pork shoulder and simply allow whatever wood flavor you are using to do its magic with the tofu as well. Remove from the grill and serve.

“As with a lot of smoked foods, fresh is best. So, yes, you can smoke and reheat, but it’s better to smoke and serve straight from the grill. If you can’t do that, then take the smoked tofu out of the fridge, bring it to room temperature and put it, unwrapped, in a preheated 300-degree oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.”

I’m back. And still thinking about “the traditional Thanksgiving smoked tofu.” Really?

So, let’s assume you smoke that tofu and end up with holiday leftovers. Not a problem! Smoked tofu adds a bacony note to the seasonally appropriate Cabbage Slaw With Orange-Pumpkin Seed Dressing; it makes a great stand-in for chicken in an Asian-themed Smoked Tofu Salad; and it can be substituted for the turkey breast in Couscous – Turkey Salad. Who knows: You might get to be a tofu fan, too.

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