Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Salut Mes Copains!

Is there anything quite so satisfying as getting together with girlfriends one has known most of one's life?

These are women who have known me since I was fifteen and we were all dropped into a French boarding school. Bonnie and I went to high school together later, too, and Sunny hosted my wedding nearly 10 years ago. We go 'way back.

We reunited a number of years ago after years apart and within minutes were laughing and sharing stories as if we had never been separated. We can tell each other our darkest, spiciest secrets without fear, giggle over youthful (and not-so-youthful) indiscretions, get advice about knotty problems, sound off on political topics, share pictures of our grandchildren, commiserate over wrinkles and spreading waistlines - and we "get" each others' jokes. We rotate visiting each others' houses; this time, we went to Bonnie's house and enjoyed lunch while we chatted.

Bonnie is a vegetarian, one of those who chooses vegetarianism not for one single reason but for several good and sensible ones, but sometimes strays from the pure path. I never know when I visit her house if she will be feeding me bean sprouts and wheat grass or animal flesh, but I always know it will be delicious.

This time, she was on the vegetarian wagon again and she prepared the only dish containing tofu that I have ever truly enjoyed, Tofu Marbella. A combination of unusual ingredients, it was sweet and savory at the same time, an inspired melding of flavors that I will actually make again one of these days. From a devout carnivore, that's saying something! I begged for the recipe to share with you.

I'm not sure which was better food, the Tofu Marbella or the soul food I get every time I spend time with these two delicious friends. I am lucky to have both.

Tofu Marbella, adapted by Anne Rolke* from the Silver Palate Cookbook

3/4 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, rinsed to remove the salt
1/2 head garlic, peeled and finely minced or pressed (7-8 cloves)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup capers with a little of the juice
1 Tbs. dried oregano
3 bay leaves
Sea salt
Black pepper
2 pounds firm (Bonnie used extra firm) tofu, cut into bite-size cubes (drain the water and press slightly)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro

In a large bowl, combine prunes, olives, garlic, vinegar, oil, capers and juice, oregano, bay leaves, and pepper and salt to taste. Gently fold in the tofu and make sure it is well coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least six hours (this is essential to achieve the deep, sweet flavor).

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Arrange tofu in a single layer in two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle tofu pieces with sugar and pour wine around them. Bake for 40-50 minutes, basting occasionally with pan juices. Tofu should be nicely browned and flavorful.

With a slotted spoon, transfer tofu, prune pieces, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Serve over fluffy rice.

*Ms. Rolke notes that each of the 6 servings has 286 calories, 13 gm fat, 13 gm protein, 32 gm carbohydrate, 3 gm fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, and 189 mg sodium.

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Blogger kudzu said...

Thank you -- and Bonnie -- for this recipe. Chicken Marbella is a long, long-time favorite dish. I never thought of making it with tofu and am delighted that I could serve this to my vegan granddaughter, who gets short shrift at most family feasts.

Thursday, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Kudzu, how nice that you try to honor your granddaughter's choices!

Thursday, January 29, 2009  

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