Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tofu Tetrazzini topped with Cheese People

Last Wednesday, between calls for monetary donations, our local public radio station played an opera snippet and mentioned the sixty-ninth anniversary of the death of Luisa Tetrazzini. Tetrazzini is an Italian opera soprano who was said to have inspired either Mr. Pavani (of the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York) or Ernest Arbogast (of the Palace in San Francisco) to create a dish of pasta, mushrooms, cream sauce, non red meat and wine which bears her last name. In a small way, via the public radio station's death anniversary announcement, she also inspired my creation. My favorite recipe of the week: Tofu Tetrazzini.

Tofu Tetrazzini
(printable version)

-3 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 block of tofu, sliced thinly
-2 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
-1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
-1 large onion, finely chopped
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon thyme leaves
-1/2 cup sherry
-1/3 cup all-purpose flour
-4 cups skim milk
-1 cup half and half
-1 cup vegetarian chicken broth
-1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-16 ounces linguine
-3/4 cup frozen peas
-1 cup grated Parmesan
-1/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Wrap tofu in a paper towel and press between two plates for one hour.

3. Butter a 13 by 9 baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and oil in a frying pan. Sprinkle the tofu with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Add the tofu to the frying pan and cook until golden about 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cool before ripping the tofu into bite-size pieces. Place tofu in a large bowl and set aside.

4. Using the same pan saute the mushrooms for about 12 minutes. Add mushrooms to tofu and mix.

5. Using the same pan add onion, garlic, and thyme. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the sherry and simmer until it evaporates. Transfer the onions to the bowl with the tofu and mushrooms.

6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, half and half, broth, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, whisking often, until thickened about 12 minutes. Be careful not to burn.

7. Cook the linguine according to the package. Drain the pasta. Combine the linguine, sauce, peas, and tofu mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta.

8. Transfer to the baking dish. Mix the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Russian disco punks Cheese People are a unique band. On one side of the spectrum you have Olya Chubarova "meowing" about her desire to not "be the reason for your erection." On the other side you've got the sampling and instrumentation of Sergey Chernov, Anton Zalygin and Michael Zencov suggesting that these songs belong in the dance club. I would agree except dance clubs aren't always the most progressive places. I mean could you see hot sweaty bodies gyrating to a song about popcorn stealing (which I am notorious for)? The two tracks below, "Stroitel" and "Ua-A-A!" come from last years self-titled release.

Cheese People-Stroitel

Cheese People-Ua-A-A!