Dear Hubby and I love taking weekend trips to the beach or mountains. Whether its a trip for just the two of us, for a couple's getaway, or includes our adult children and extended family, these trips always feature lots of fun and food. Though we love exploring and trying local restaurants this can sometimes be a challenge when you have a house divided: Vegans vs. Meateaters. But, we somehow manage to make it work. Even so, Dear Hubby and the kids always request that I personally make at least one big brunch meal at the vacation home. And, since I love cooking for my family, I am happy to oblige.
One of Dear Hubby's absolute favorite brunch meals is Vegan Chick'n and Waffles. Once I perused the Mystery Box for "Cook with Us #24 -@docsmith Handcrafted Knife Contest Round Two", I must admit that I was intrigued.
Chicken or Tofu
Now, these all of these ingredients are often found on any Southern US table during the height of the summer growing season, my mind immediately thought of a variation of my famous Vegan Chick'n and Waffles.
For my Round Two entry, I decided to make a Chai Tea Infused Masala Tofu, Topped with Strawberry Chutney and served over Cornmeal Waffles Studded with Tomato Raisins.
The crunch of this Chai tea and spice infused tofu married beautifully with the cornmeal waffles which were studded with salty/sweet tomato raisins. I topped the tofu chick'n with a mix of baby spinach and spicy arugula. The tart and spicy **Strawberry Chutney **really brought it all together. Each and every bite was a delightful flavor explosion of India meets Southern US cooking.
Now, I must admit that making Chai Tea Infused Masala Tofu, Topped with Strawberry Chutney and served over Cornmeal Waffles Studded with Tomato Raisins takes a bit of time and advance planning. The Chai Tea and Spice infused tofu goes through not only a period of marinade in strong Chai tea but also a marinade in Masala spices. And, making tomato raisins is truly a labor of love....lots of work but totally worth it.
I hope you enjoy the following visual journey of the making of Chai Tea Infused Masala Tofu, Topped with Strawberry Chutney and served over Cornmeal Waffles Studded with Tomato Raisins. And, should you have an opportunity to make a decadent weekend breakfast or brunch, I've included the recipes for you to try. You'll find the recipes at the very end of this post.
I've always enjoyed a nice cup of Chai Tea! So, why not bring that flavor to my Southern Fried Tofu Chick'n!
Time for a little Tofu Butchery! I always try to get organic, non-GMO tofu for my recipes.
Infusing the tofu with all the flavor of freshly brewed Chai Tea.
For Added Flavor: Infusing Tofu with Masa Spices and Herbs
We've got All the Spices for The Flour and Panko Dredge for the Southern Fried Tofu Chick'n!
An organized assembly line is a must for Making Southern Fried Tofu Chick'n: Tofu. Dip. Dredge. Fry! ( And, if I'm feeling extra sassy, I dip and dredge twice before frying.)
Making Tomato Raisins is truly a labor of love! Every little tomato must be cored and scored!
Then a quick dip in boiling water.
Then, shocked in an ice bath.
And now, the fun part! Peeling. Every. Single. Little. Cherry. Tomato. By. Hand.
Aren't these little naked tomatos beautiful?!?
The tomatoes are glazed and ready for a 4- 6 hour slow roast in the oven.
![Glazed Tomatoes for Waffles.JPG]
OMG!! These little Tomato Raisins are totally worth the time and effort!
Beautiful, Sweet Organic Strawberries for the Chutney
Quartered Strawberries Mixed with Ginger and Sugar. Waiting to be cooked with Panch Phoron (Indian Five Spice), Chile Peppers and a splash of vinegar.
Spicy, Tangy Strawberry Chutney!
I served the Chai Tea Infused Masala Tofu, Topped with Strawberry Chutney and served over Cornmeal Waffles Studded with Tomato Raisins with a blistering fresh mint chutney and sweet mangos. Oh, the joy!!
And, then there was none: My proof photo!
And now, the promised recipes.
Recipe #1: Cherry Tomato Raisins (Credit for this recipe goes to those talented folks over at Serious Eats! https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2018/08/print/tomato-raisins-oven-dried-whole-cherry-tomatoes.html#)
- 3 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Celtic Sea Salt (or any sea salt you have on hand)
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F, adjusting racks to the upper and lower middle of the oven.
Wash tomatoes, and remove the core from the stem end of each tomato. Then score the skin on the opposite end.
Prepare an ice bath.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. And, drop a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. Using a large kitchen spider, remove from water after about 30- 45 seconds and immediately plunge into the ice bath. (Remove the tomatoes from the hot water when the skins begin to separate from the flesh at the scored end.)
Peel each tomato and line up on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet. ( Use two baking sheets so as not to overcrowd tomatoes.) Be forewarned, whether you use your fingers or a paring knife, peeling these tomatoes can be a bear of a job. But, if you've properly scored your tomatoes before putting them in hot water, it makes it much easier.
Once all tomatoes are peeled and lined up on the baking sheets, set aside. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and salt with 1 - 2 tsp of water. This mixture should resemble a wet sand.
Stir in the olive oil. Coat the waiting tomatoes with the mixture and then place them in the preheated oven.
- Slow roast the tomatoes until they are about one-fourth of their original size. Rotate the trays and add additional glaze about every hour or so. Depending on your oven and the size of your cherry tomatoes, this can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. My batch took about 4 hours to reach the desired size and consistency. I think I may try making my next batch in my dehydrator. I'll let you know how they turn out.
Recipe #2: Indian Strawberry Chutney (Credit for this recipe goes to bite.co.nz. http://www.bite.co.nz/recipe/13648/Indian-strawberry-chutney/ There are many great recipes available for Indian Strawberry Chutney. Find or create one that suits your tastebuds.)
- 1 quart fresh, organic strawberries (if not availables, frozen, sliced organic strawberries will do)
- 2 TB. freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp. organic canola oil, avocado oil or grapeseed oil (you may use any neutral tasting oil)
- 2 tsp Paunh Phoron (This spice blend, also known as Indian Five Spice Mix, is a blend commonly used in Eastern India and Bangladesh and consists of the following seeds: Cumin, Brown Mustard, Fenugreek, Nigella and Fennel. Usually left whole, the spices are dry roasted or fried in oil to bring out their pungent flavors. You can make your own spice blend, if you've the time and inclinations, or you may do as I did and purchase the prepared blend at your local Indian or Asian market.)
- 2 small red chilles (You may either leave these whole or chopped...depending on how much heat you like. I was lucky enough to be able to pick my peppers from my patio garden. Freshness guaranteed!)
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- Medium Lemon, use both the grated zest and the juice
- Wash, hull and quarter fresh strawberries. (If using frozen berries, skip this step). In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine the berries with the grated ginger and the sugar. Let this mixture rest undisturbed for about an hour.
- In a small frying pan, heat the oil of your choice. When hot, add the panch phoron and chillies and fry for about 30 seconds to coax out the full flavors of the spices.
- Add the fried spices to the waiting strawberries. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Then add your vinegar, the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Let simmer until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. This should take about 20 - 25 minutes.
- Once done, if not using immediately, pour into sterilized jars and keep in fridge. I'm sure that this can be canned for future use, but, alas, this was just not in the cards for me today.
- This bright, sweet and spicy chutney is great atop the Chai Tea Infused Masala Fried Chick'n Tofu and Waffles! But, I think it would also make a great addition to a vegan cheese, fruit and cracker platter. Can't wait to try it!
Recipe #3: Chai Tea Infused Marsala Southern Fried Chick'n Tofu
###Ingredients (For my meal, I doubled the ingredients so that we would have leftovers...which are perfectly crisp when reheated in my air fryer)
- 6 Chai Tea Bags
- 2 cups water
- 14 oz. block extra-firm, organic tofu (As always,, I try to use only non-GMO, organic and local brands when possible)
- 2 TB Toasted Sesame Oil
- 2 TB Tamari or Soy Sauce
- 2 Tsp Freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cardamon
- 2 tsp agave
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 TB finely chopped,fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
####For Flour Dredge
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 TB Paunch Phoron (Indian Five Spice)
- 2 TB Garlic Powder
- 2 TB Dry Mustard
- 2 TB Smoked Paprika
- 1 TB Garam Masala
- 2 tsp Tumeric
- 1 tsp Cayenne
- 2 cups Panko
####For Liquid Dip
- 2 Flax Eggs ( For each flax egg, you'll need 1 TB of Golden Flax Meal and 3 TB Warm Water. Mix well and let stand about 5 minutes before starting recipe)
- 2 1/4 cups Vegan Buttermilk (Combine 2 1/4 cups soy or almond milk with 3 TB Apple Cider Vinegar. Let stand
about 5 minutes to curdle before adding to recipe).
- Drain and press tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. Butcher your tofu by cutting block into 6 even slices.
- In the meantime, Bring water to boil. Pour water over tea bags and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard.
- Arrange tofu in a glass dish, or other non-reactive dish, and pour tea over tofu. Marinade at room temperature for 1 hour, flipping half-way through marinating time.
- Drain tea from tofu, reserving 1 cup of the tea marinade.
- In a bowl, combine reserved tea, tamari, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, agave, smoked paprika, and garlic. Pour mixture over tofu. Sprinkle chopped cilantro overtop. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. (Note: I usually prepare the tofu to this point and then pop it into the fridge overnight. This really helps get all of that great Masala flavor into your tofu). Ideally, most of the marinating liquid will be absorbed into the tofu.
- Mix ingredients for Flour Batter in one large dish and ingredients for liquid dip in another large dish.
- Heat organic canola or avocado oil (or whatever you prefer) to medium-high in a large heavy skillet. I always place a small slice of potato into the oil to test for readiness.
- Dip each piece of tofu into the liquid dip and then into the flour mixture, coating well. Carefully slide into the hot oil and cook until golden brown. Work carefully and quickly, because that oil is HOT and the tofu will cook quickly.
- As each piece of tofu is done, remove from oil and drain on paper towels to remove an excess oil.
(Note: If you have any tofu left, it is best reheated in an air-fryer, if you have it. As a matter of fact, I usually prefer frying in the air-fryer rather than in oil. It is definitely a healthier option. But, traditional frying is a rare and tasty treat.)
##Recipe 4: Cornmeal Waffles with Tomato Raisins
- Flax Eggs ( For each flax egg, you'll need 1 TB of Golden Flax Meal and 3 TB Warm Water. Mix well and let stand about 5 minutes before starting recipe)
- 2 1/4 cups Vegan Buttermilk (Combine 2 1/4 cups soy or almond milk with 3 TB Apple Cider Vinegar. Let stand about 5 minutes to curdle before adding to recipe)
- 1/2 cup Vegan Butter, melted (you can buy your vegan butter or WATCH this blog for an upcoming post on how to make your own delicious, creamy European-style vegan butter)
- 1 1/4 cups Unbleached, All-purpose flour ( I use Bob's Red Mill Brand unless I'm lucky enough to get some good locally sourced flour.)
- 3/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal (Again, I use Bob's Red Mill if locally sourced cornmeal isn't available)
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Sugar (organic cane or coconut sugar is fine)
- 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 . 1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
- 1/2 cup Tomato Raisins (See recipe above)
- Heat waffle iron.
- Pour flax eggs into a blender and blend on low for 10 seconds. Add vegan buttermilk and melted Vegan butter ( or "buttah" if you prefer). Blend for 15 seconds on low to combine.
- Add remaining ingredients (EXCEPT Tomato Raisins) and blend on medium for about 40 seconds. Scape sides of blender jar, as necessary. (Note: because of the size of my blender jar, I had to divide my batter and blend in two parts).
- Fold Tomato Raisins into batter.
- Pour about 1/4 cup batter into prepared, hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside.
Once all of the above are done, build your very own Chai Tea Infused Masala Chick'n Fried Tofu with Cornmeal Waffles, Tomato Raisins and Strawberry Chutney. ## Dig in and enjoy!
Bonus Recipe: Mint Chutney
I still had a bit of mint left in my patio garden so I decided to make this fiery mint chutney to go with my recipe. It only takes a few minutes and is brings a little zing to the party!
2 cups fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 /2 to 1 green chile pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 white or yellow onion (cut into chunks)
1 Tablespoon Tamarind paste or juice (if not available, lemon juice will do)
1/4 cup water, or as needed (I found that the onion actually released so much liquid that I didn't need to add any water)
Put all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and process to a fine paste.
Hi, I'm Benita G. You may also know me as, or call me, @AtMemesTable.
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