Feb 11, 2011

Romancing the Plate, A Valentine's Tale

Three women became hopelessly infatuated with the same man. He was a world-class chef, and they believed him to be the most handsome, the most noble, the most intelligent, and the most sensitive man they had ever met in their whole lives (and they had met a lot).

The first woman was an accomplished scientist, who valued the man's intellect most of all. She devised a plan to capture his heart by impressing him with her vast knowledge. The man was duly impressed, and invited her to his restaurant to have his famous breakfast. She excitedly accepted, but as the morning wore on, the man realized that although she was very intelligent, she was also a snob, a bore, and treated people as inferiors. Needless to say, she did not receive a request for a second date.

The second woman was a glamorous heiress, who valued the man's nobility and appreciation for the finer things. She put on her best designer outfit and had her makeup and hair done by the best professionals money could buy. He was mesmerized by her sparkling beauty, and invited her to his restaurant to have his famous lunch. She happily accepted, but as the afternoon wore on, he realized that although she was very beautiful, she was also very shallow, kind of a ditz, and treated people like property. Needless to say, she did not receive a request for a second date.

The third woman was beautiful, but in a quiet way. She was a waitress, who valued the man's sensitivity most of all. She worked in his restaurant, but only dared to admire him from afar. After the first two women, the man thought about his own prejudices, and decided to invite the meek waitress to dine with him. He wasn't expecting much, as he knew little about her. But as the night wore on, he realized that although she was shy and thought little of herself, she was also intelligent, beautiful, talented, and had a wonderful heart. But alas, she didn't believe she was good enough to belong in his world, and sadly refused his request for a second date.

The man was devastated, for he believed that he had just met the love of his life, but the woman would rather run away from love than believe in herself.

That night, the man racked his brain. How could he change her mind? How could he inspire her to feel differently about herself? After tossing and turning and getting little sleep, he finally decided he would do the only thing he knew how to do... cook.

So the next evening, he persuaded the woman to stay late to test a new dish. Little did she know that he had worked on it all day, tasting, embellishing, and perfecting it, until it was a masterpiece worthy of his restaurant.

The woman looked down on her plate, and marveled at the beautiful presentation. She took a bite, and her eyes closed as she savored the amazing flavors and textures. She had never tasted anything so wonderful! When she asked what it was made of, the man paused and looked deeply into her eyes.

"It's tofu," he said.

It was tofu. Simple, plain, and unassuming tofu, transformed into a beautiful work of art.

Her eyes welled up with tears, as she blushed and tried to look away. He reached gently for her face, and redirected her gaze back to his.

"You are a work of art, waiting to happen," he whispered.

She smiled and fell into his arms, as they shared their first kiss. Needless to say, she accepted his request for a second date.
Almond Encrusted Tofu on Top of Seasoned Quinoa Rice, Roasted Red Pepper Ring, and Red Pepper Coulis

Almond Encrusted Tofu for Two:
Drain and press extra-firm tofu, then marinate in salt water for half an hour (taste for desired saltiness), drain and press again. Slice tofu into two 1/2" thick, 3 inch wide slices and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together in these proportions: 2 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes, pinch of salt, 2 T. sliced almonds, pinch of black pepper, 2 tsp. all purpose flour, dry seasoning of choice, and a little water to form a paste. Mix together, smear a thin layer on top of the 3 inch tofu rounds, then arrange some almond slices on top (they should stick). Fry in a non-stick skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil, 2 minutes per side (carefully flipping with spatula). Press down with a spatula to flatten a bit.

Quinoa Rice:
Cook half quinoa, half medium grain rice. Take about 1 cup of rice and season with fresh parsley, lemon juice, salt, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and roasted minced garlic. Oil a 3" ring form about 1/2 deep, and set on top of plate. Press in rice mixture with the back of a spoon, then lift mold.

Red Pepper Coulis:
Roast about a cup of sweet red pepper and one garlic clove. Puree these with salt, a little water (a couple tablespoons), pepper, and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into a squeeze bottle, and decorate the plate as desired.

Tofu on FoodistaTofu


  1. I love your story. Very sweet and moving. So true, the simplest things can often be the most beautiful.

    And, your creation is gorgeous...I think I use the same words commenting on your blog all the time, but I'm lost for words: gorgeous that's what it is. Thanks for the recipe...I'll have to try this sometime when I have some diners I really I really want to impress...in hopes it comes out as nice as that.

  2. The story brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful! And the tofu looks delicious, too. Great job!

  3. What a lovely story!I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this tofu widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about recipes for tofu

  4. Awwww, what a great story and a beautiful dish! :-)

  5. What a beautiful story! You're a great writer. :) The tofu looks splendid, I want to have a taste! Nice presentation as well.