Thursday, September 13, 2007

General Tao's Tofu

This recipe for General Tao's Tofu is the deservedly most popular recipe on VegWeb. Check out the link for the originally posted recipe. Because we at Tiny House are not hardcore vegetarians, I did relax the stringency of the vegetarianism of this dish. Like, I didn't use an egg substitute, I used an egg. Here's my version, which is nearly identical to the original.


- 1 box of firm tofu
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 chopped green onions
- 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2/3 cup vegetable stock
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- Red pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon sherry (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- Steamed broccoli


Drain, dry and cut tofu into 1 inch chunks. You can freeze tofu the night before to get a more chicken-like consistency, but it isn't necessary. Beat egg and add three tablespoons of water. Dip tofu in egg/water mixture and coat completely. Put 3/4 cup cornstarch in bottom of shallow bowl or plate. Dredge the egg coated tofu in the cornstarch and set aside. The tofu might absorb some of the cornstarch, but it's nothing to worry about.

Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a deep skillet, and fry tofu pieces until golden. Place the fired tofu on paper towels to sop up some of the oil. Cool and drain oil--you can save frying oil and use it again.

Heat 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a pan on medium heat. Add green onions, ginger and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper and vinegar. Mix 2 Tablespoons water with 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and pour into mixture stirring well. Add fried tofu and coat evenly.

Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.

This recipe is not good--it's fucking awesome. For someone like me, who looooves American-Chinese food, I could eat this every night. It does take some prep time, but it is well worth the effort. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Chai (Indian style)....simple but good...

Alright. I've been incommunicado this weekend for two reasons. A) Massive Indian wedding where we sat out in the sun in Old Town for hours--which I believe led me to B) catching a very bad sinus cold/100.5 degree fever all day Labor day.

On a side note the reception for the wedding was at the Corcoran Art Gallery. Simply beautiful--with tables interspersed between columns in the lobby in hues of red. The tables were set with clear tableware and when each guest had a bronze party favor with their name tags attached in a sort of limey green color. I think my favorite thing was how the meal was served. Catered by Heritage India it consisted of 10 dishes served in these wonderful steel serving bowls. Centerpieces were orange lily-like flowers in round vases. Unfortunately I couldn't really taste anything, but the tartness in the mango sherbet was great (I am looking for the recipe to post). When they put up pictures I will post them here so you can see what I mean. All of ours turned out too dark.

Here are two pictures from the wedding--(I know nothing to really do with food, but I thought that you might appreciate the colors), which sort of gives the idea of the color scheme at the gallery.

Anyway--because of my cold I had my sister make me some tea. Its simple but really really good.

(one serving, but if you are making for more people just multiply accordingly)

1 cup water
milk as desired
1 bag of Lipton tea
ground cardamom
1 packet of Splenda

Bring water to a boil and then add teabag. Let boil until tea is desired strength and add milk (I usually guesstamate, but its always like 1/8 of a cup or so). Add 1 packet of Splenda and a pinch of ground cardamom.

This will yield a Chai that is sweet but oh so good on the scratchy throat.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alexandria: culinary hotspot?

The New York Times has a great article talking up Alexandria as a hot new dining destination, giving brief reviews and even a map for the foodie tourist.

But for those of us who aren't tourists, Old Town has been a great spot for years. Most special occasions in my childhood were marked by a trip to the Chart House, a large preppy restaurant right on the river that features fabulous clam chowder, a lush salad bar, and classic steak and potatoes fare. That place has been there for years, as has the equally great Bilbo Baggins, a homey self-proclaimed "global" style eatery with awesome wine and beer and sustainable food practices. (Owned by Hobbit obsessed hippy-boomers, I guess?) The last time I went there I had potato gnochi with an apple sage cream sauce, an awesome glass of white wine, and a great conversation with the waiter (if not with my date).

While both of those restaurants are moderately pricey and consistent, the new crop that the article focuses on are considerably more glitzy and experimental, drawing away top chefs from the district and offering less of the safe, corporate fare that spots like the Blue Duck Tavern and Jaleo have been tending towards lately. I recently went to the very affordable Rustico with Sara, and with its spoon mosaics and lofty ceilings it seemed worlds away from the wood-paneled charm of a place like Bilbo Baggins. We had a wild mushroom pizza with goat cheese, and some fries with an amazing fire-roasted tomato sauce. It also offers a charming "mosaic" menu, which is a tapas-style menu of smaller plates matched with a complimentary beer. Not as appealing to me because of a distinct lack of vegetarian options, but definitely a treat for the beer lover in your life.
For the general booze-hound, Restaurant Eve is not to be missed. I recently read an article in the Post about their sommelier extraordinaire, Todd Thrasher and his skills were confirmed by a cocktail visit. (New Age Gibson, anyone?) As for the food, I'll have to wait until my next paycheck comes in, but its also supposed to be wonderful. Can anyone attest to this, or any of the other stops lauded in the Times article?