BLT Lettuce Wraps

8 leaves from 1 medium head butter lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb
6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium avocado, diced

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lined a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Lay the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until deep golden-brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, stir the mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, and pepper together in a small bowl; set aside.

Once the bacon is cool, transfer it to a cutting board and coarsely chop it. Fill each lettuce leaf with tomatoes, bacon, and avocado. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES

Make ahead: The bacon can be cooked and chopped a day ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Reuben Casserole

8 oz (226.8 g) Pastrami, thinly sliced
8 oz (226.8 g) Corned Beef, thinly sliced
2 cups (284 g) Sauerkraut
8 oz (226.8 g) Swiss Cheese, sliced
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Caraway seeds

For the Russian dressing
1/2 cup (112 g) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) Low Sugar Ketchup
1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) onions, chopped
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Smoked Paprika

Preheat oven to 400F.

Make the Russian Dressing: In a small bowl, mix together mayo, ketchup, onion, hot sauce, and paprika and set aside.

Butter an 9 inch pan or an 8 x 8 baking dish. Layer the ingredients for the Reuben: start with the three fourths of the corned beef, top with the sauerkraut. Sprinkle the caraway seeds across the sauerkraut. Drizzle the dressing over the sauerkraut. Top with the remaining meat, and then top with Swiss Cheese. So your layers will be: meat, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, dressing, meat, and Swiss cheese.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes if desired.

Notes:

Use a 9-inch cake pan or an 8 x 8 baking pan to make this casserole.

Use a combination of thinly sliced pastrami and corned beef.

Drain the sauerkraut as well as you can. Despite this, you will have some sauce in the bottom of the pan once it’s baked. I drizzled most of this over the casserole.

If you don’t care about making this low carb, you can always layer the bottom with pieces of rye bread. Top with rye bread as well, and bake as directed. In this case, the bread will soak up all the lovely dressing. But of course, for low carb, either skip the bread or try it with Sola bread which is currently my favorite low carb bread.

Use Swiss cheese or any other kind of melting cheese for the top.

The caraway seeds add a lovely crunch to this dish. You can also buy sauerkraut with caraway seeds and skip a step.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. almond flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
Vegetable oil
3/4 c. low-carb sugar-free tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°. Using a sharp knife, cut chicken breasts in half crosswise. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place eggs and almond flour in 2 separate shallow bowls. In a third shallow bowl, combine Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

Working with one at a time, dip chicken cutlets into almond flour, then eggs, and then Parmesan mixture, pressing to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Work in batches as necessary, adding more oil when needed.
Transfer fried cutlets to a 9″-x-13″ baking dish, evenly spread tomato sauce on each cutlet and top with mozzarella.

Bake until cheese is melty, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, broil until cheese is golden, 3 minutes.
Top with basil and more Parmesan before serving.

Cauliflower Cheese Casserole

FOR THE MAC & CHEESE
Butter, for baking dish
2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 c. heavy cream
6 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
4 c. shredded cheddar
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp. hot sauce (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE TOPPING
4 oz. pork rinds, crushed
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375° and butter a 9”-x-13” baking dish. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt. Spread cauliflower onto two large baking sheets and roast until tender and lightly golden, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat cream. Bring up to a simmer, then decrease heat to low and stir in cheeses until melted. Remove from heat, add hot sauce if using and season with salt and pepper, then fold in roasted cauliflower. Taste and season more if needed.

Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl stir to combine pork rinds, Parmesan, and oil. Sprinkle mixture in an even layer over cauliflower and cheese.

Bake until golden, 15 minutes. If desired, turn oven to broil to toast topping further, about 2 minutes.

Garnish with parsley before serving.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped white or yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced or grated, about 1 tablespoon
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (2 to 3 medium), peeled and diced
4 cups no-salt chicken or vegetable low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or finely chopped scallion greens, for serving
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Set a paper towel-lined plate or a rack near the stove. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain, leaving the oil and bacon drippings in the pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half the potatoes to a bowl and mash until almost smooth but still a little chunky. Return the potatoes to the pan along with the sour cream, 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) of the cheese and the pepper.

Cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the crumbled bacon, the remaining cheese and the chives or scallion greens, and serve.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Goat Cheese

24 large cremini mushrooms (1 1/2 pounds), stems discarded
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use.

Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and toast over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 2 minutes. Stir in the fried rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Gently press a piece of goat cheese in the center of each mushroom, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve.

Filipino Chicken Mami Soup

1 package (16 ounces) fresh egg noodles/mami
8 cups homemade broth
2 cups cooked chicken meat, shredded

Toppings
1/2 napa cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
fried garlic bits
1/2 cup green onions, ends trimmed and chopped
boneless, skinless chicken breast

For the Homemade Broth
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 pounds bone-in chicken thigh meat
2 quarts boiling water
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
fish sauce to taste

For the Fried Garlic Bits
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup oil

In a pot over medium heat, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for about 10 to 15 seconds. Remove from water and drain well.

Divide noodles equally into bowls. Add chicken meat, julienned carrots, shredded napa cabbage, and hard-boiled egg.

Pour hot broth. Garnish with fried garlic bits and chopped onions. Serve hot.
For the Homemade Broth

In a deep pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until limp and aromatic.

Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken releases its juices.

Raise heat to high and add boiling water. Add carrots, celery, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Season with salt. Skim scum that accumulates on top.

Lower heat again and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

With a slotted spoon, remove chicken pieces from broth. Allow to cool to touch. Remove meat from bones and shred. Set aside chicken meat and keep warm.

Return the bones to the pot and continue to cook at barely a simmer, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes is slightly reduced and flavor is concentrated.

Using a cheesecloth, strain liquid and discard bones and aromatics. Return the broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Season with fish sauce to taste.
For the Fried Garlic Bits

In a small pan over low heat, heat oil. Add garlic and cook until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove toasted garlic and drain on paper towels.

Filipino Chicken Sotanghon Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and julienned
1 pound chicken on the bone
1 cup Chinese celery (kinchay), chopped
2 tablespoons fish sauce
7 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon atchuete powder
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces (about 2 coils) sotanghon (bean threads)
1/2 head napa cabbage, shredded
3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved
fried garlic bits
green onions, chopped

For the Fried Garlic Bits
1/2 cup oil
1 head garlic, peeled and minced

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened.

Add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, until lightly browned and juices run clear.

Add celery and cook, stirring regularly, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until softened.

Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, skimming any scum that floats on top. Lower heat, cover, and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through.

In a bowl, combine about ½ cup of the hot broth and atsuete powder. Stir until atsuete is dissolved. Add atsuete water to pot.

Add carrots and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until half-done. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add sotanghon noodles and push down into broth to soften, stirring gently to separate.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with boiled eggs, fried garlic bits and green onions. Serve hot.

When noodles have slightly softened, add cabbage and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until noodles are cooked and vegetables are tender yet crisp.

For the Fried Garlic Bits

In a small pan over low heat, heat oil. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Garlic will crisp as it cools.

Filipino Sizzling Tofu

2 packages (12 ounces each) firm tofu
canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 small green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
3 finger chili peppers (siling haba)
2 Thai chili peppers
1/4 cup calamansi juice
1/4 cup Knorr seasoning sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise

In a wide pan over medium heat about 2-inches deep of oil until hot but not smoking.

Add tofu in batches and cook, turning as needed, until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions and garlic and cook until slightly softened.

Add bell peppers and chili peppers and cook, stirring regularly, until tender-crisp.

Add calamansi juice and seasoning sauce. Simmer until slightly reduced.

Add fried tofu cubes and mayonnaise and toss for about 1 minute or just until evenly coated and heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and transfer to a sizzling plate

Vegetable Yaki Udon

12 ozUdon Noodles

Sauce:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Stir Fry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 cloves garlic , minced
1/2 onion , diced
1 bell pepper , sliced
1/2 cup carrot , cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup snow peas , sliced
1 can (5 oz) water chestnuts , sliced

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the onion, bell pepper, carrot, snow peas, and water chestnuts. Cook and stir for another 30 seconds, until the veggies just start to turn tender.

Add the noodles over the vegetables, followed by 2 tablespoons of water. Gently break apart the noodles using a pair of chopsticks (or a pair of tongs) while the water cooks off. Then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and stir everything together.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables and noodles. Stir and mix until the noodles and vegetables are evenly coated. Cook for another minute until the vegetables are cooked through but remain crisp. Taste the noodles carefully, add a pinch of salt to your taste if needed.

Serve hot as a main or side dish.

Kung Pao Tofu

1 medium or small head cauliflower , cut into small florets
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk (or non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 bell pepper , cut into 1” (2.5 cm) pieces
4 green onions , cut into bite-sized pieces (*Footnote 1)

Sauce:
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns , crushed
6 dried Chinese chili peppers
1 ” (2.5 cm) ginger , minced
4 cloves garlic , minced

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spray with a light coating of cooking spray.

Combine the Chinkiang vinegar, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cornstarch.

Dry the cauliflower thoroughly with paper towels. Add the cauliflower florets to a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss a few times. Add the flour and toss until the the florets are coated. Pour in the milk and toss again. Add the cornstarch and toss until the cauliflower is evenly coated. Spread the coated cauliflower on to the lined baking tray, making sure the pieces are evenly spaced out with gaps in between (*Footnote 2). Bake for 25 minutes in total. Check the cauliflower at the 15- and 20-minute marks. If the bottom is browned, flip the cauliflower. Once the baking is finished, the cauliflower should turn golden brown spotly and crispy throughout.

While the cauliflower is baking, make the sauce. Add the oil, peppercorns, and dried chilis to a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Once they become fragrant, about 1 minute, add the ginger and garlic. Cook until they are just starting to brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the sauce again to re-dissolve the cornstarch completely and add it to the pan. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Boil until the sauce is just thickened. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside.

After the cauliflower has baked for 25 minutes, pull the tray out and turn the heat to 500°F. Add the peanuts, peppers, and green onions. Put the tray back in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes, until the peppers are lightly cooked.

Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and gently toss to coat (*Footnote 3). Serve immediately as a side or a main.

Notes
It’s important to cut the cauliflower to the right size to ensure even roasting and browning. See the blog post above to see how to cut the cauliflower.

It’s very important to leave some space between the cauliflower florets, so the cauliflower will release steam and turn crispy once baked. If your baking tray does not have enough space, bake the rest in a separate tray. You can bake both trays at the same time by place the smaller tray on a different rack.

If you’re not serving the dish immediately, let the cauliflower cool off for a bit before tossing in the sauce. The cauliflower will stay crispy better this way.

Home Style Tofu with Peppers

1 block (14 oz/396 g) soft or medium firm tofu , cut into 1 cm thick triangles (Footnote 1)
1 cup vegetable oil , for deep frying
4 cloves garlic , sliced
1 ” (2.5 cm) ginger , thinly sliced into strips
3 green onions , cut into 1″ pieces, white and green parts separated
1 tablespoon doubanjiang
1/2 carrot , sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 bell pepper , cut into 1” diamonds
1 (8-oz / 226 g) can sliced bamboo shoots , or 1 bamboo shoot, sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Sauce:
3 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetarian oyster sauce (or sweet bean paste) (Footnote 2)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water (or vegetable stock)

Slurry:
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Add the slurry ingredients into a small bowl and stir to mix well.

In a high-walled skillet or pot, heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). Carefully add the tofu. Fry until both sides turn golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once or twice to ensure even cooking. Remove the tofu from the oil and transfer it to a big plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan (alternatively, you can heat 1 tablespoon of oil in another large skillet).

Add the garlic, ginger, green onion (white part), and doubanjiang to the pan. Turn the heat to medium. Stir fry to release the fragrance until the oil turns red, about 2 minutes.

Add the fried tofu, carrots, bell peppers, and bamboo. Stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Pour in the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, gently flipping occasionally. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the green onion (green part). Mix the slurry again so the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour in the slurry and mix with a spatula until the sauce thickens.

Drizzle in a teaspoon of sesame oil to finish up.

Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

General Tso’s Tofu

Tofu:
1 block (16 oz / 450 g) extra firm tofu (or medium firm tofu)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
5 to 6 tablespoons cornstarch

Sauce:
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Stir fry:
3 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns (Optional)
4 to 5 dried chili peppers
1 tablespoon garlic , minced
1 tablespoon ginger , minced
2 teaspoons doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste) (Footnote 1) (Optional)
4 green onions , roughly chopped
1 bell pepper , chopped
1/3 cup fried peanuts

Cut tofu into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a large ziploc bag. Add soy sauce and maple syrup. Gently flip the bag a few times to coat tofu with the liquid. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl.

When tofu is marinated, open the bag just a little bit without letting the tofu fall out. Drain the liquid and discard it. Add cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time, and gently toss the bag to coat the tofu. It is OK if the tofu isn’t coated evenly.

Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot. Add the tofu with your hand (or a pair of tongs), shaking off any extra cornstarch. Let cook without moving for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side. If the pan gets too hot, turn to medium or medium low heat. Transfer cooked tofu to a plate. Set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns. Cook and stir until the peppercorns turn dark (but not black). Remove the Sichuan peppercorns and discard them.

Add the chili pepper, garlic, ginger, and doubanjiang. Stir for 20 to 30 seconds to release the fragrance.

Add the bell pepper and green onion. Stir for 20 seconds.

Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. Stir a few times until the sauce thickens.

Add back the cooked tofu. Gently toss to coat with sauce. Add the peanuts and give it a quick stir. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate.

Serve hot as main with steamed rice.

Baked Crispy Tofu

1 (14 oz/ 396 g) extra firm tofu (or firm tofu)

Batter:
1/2 cup soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons parsley , dried (or Italian seasoning blend)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Coating:
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal

Serving options:
Thai sweet chili sauce, ketchup, Sriracha sauce, or mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 degree F (200 C). Spray a thin layer of oil onto a baking tray.

Carefully press the tofu with your hands. Wrap a few layers of kitchen paper towels (or cheesecloth) around it to absorb the extra liquid. Cut tofu into squares that are about 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick and 2 inches (4 cm) long.

Mix the batter in a large bowl. Mix the panko and cornmeal in another bowl.

Set up your workstation by placing the batter, plate of panko mixture, and the baking tray all in a row.

Pick up a piece of tofu with your hand and dunk it into the batter. Then place it into the panko bowl, flip to coat the other side, then transfer it onto the baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining tofu.

Spray tofu with a thin layer of oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once in between, until both surfaces turn golden.

Serve hot or cold with homemade sweet chili sauce, ketchup.

Crispy Tofu with Garlic Sauce

Crispy tofu:
1 12-oz. / 340-g block extra firm tofu
Salt

Garlic sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free option
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves minced
1 green onion chopped (*Footnote 1)
Optional Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Optional Sriracha sauce for serving

Crispy tofu:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Line a baking tray with parchment.

Press the water out of the tofu while heating up the oven. Carefully press the tofu with your hands. Slice the tofu into two even-thickness pieces. Wrap a few layers of cheesecloth (or kitchen paper towel) outside the tofu, and place a small tray with a heavy weight on top. The weight can be a jar of pickles or canned tomatoes.

When the oven is heated, cut the tofu into 1/2-inch (1-cm) pieces. (*Footnote 2)
Season both sides with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the tofu turns golden and the surface puffs.

Now you can use it in stir fries or serve the tofu with sauce.

Garlic sauce:

Prepare the garlic sauce while baking the tofu. Whisk the soy sauce, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small bowl until completely dissolved.

Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and green onions. Stir for 20 seconds to release the aroma.

Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour into the pan. Stir constantly for 10 to 20 seconds, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer immediately into a small bowl, so the sauce won’t overcook in the residual heat.

When the tofu is baked, drizzle the sauce over the tofu. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if using.

Serve immediately as a snack or appetizer.

Notes:
Use the white part to cook the sauce and save the green part to garnish the tofu before serving.
It is OK to cut the tofu slightly larger, up to 3/4-inch (1.5-cm) thick. It will take longer for the pieces to crisp up, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Crispy Marinated Tofu

1 block (14 oz / 400 g) extra-firm or firm tofu
Optional 3 to 4 green onions, coarsely sliced to fill the marinade (*Footnote 1), reserve green parts for garnish
Vegetable oil for pan frying

Marinade:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chili paste (or hot sauce you like) (*Footnote 2)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch ginger, grated

Coating:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt (Skip the salt if using doubanjiang in the marinade)
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Marinate (4 hr to overnight)
(Optional) Press the tofu gently using your hands or a few layers of paper towel to get rid of excess water. Use this step if you’re short on time and need to use less time to marinate the tofu. You can skip this step if you’re going to marinate the tofu overnight.

Prepare a container that’s slightly bigger than the block of tofu. Combine all the sauce ingredients in the container. Stir to mix well. Transfer 2 to 3 tablespoons of the marinade into a separate small bowl to use as a dipping sauce later.

Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then into half-inch-thick squares. Transfer the pieces into the container by making them “stand”, so it helps the marinade to disperse evenly (see the blog post above to see how to arrange the tofu). Use your hand to gently separate the tofu slices, so all the surfaces will be in touch with the marinade. If the marinade cannot cover all the tofu, use some green onion (or white onion) to fill up the empty space in the container, so the marinade covers most of the tofu.

Cover to seal the container. Gently shake it. Marinate overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for at least 4 hours.

Cook
When you’re ready to cook, remove the tofu from the marinade and lay it on a few layers of paper towels to drain the extra liquid.

Combine the coating ingredients in a plate. Stir to mix well.

Prepare a big plate with a few layers of paper towels, for the cooked tofu.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a nonstick (or carbon steel) pan over medium-high heat until hot.
You might need to cook the tofu in batches depending on your pan size. While heating up the pan, coat each piece of tofu with the coating mixture and place it on a plate. You should only coat the pieces you’re going to fry immediately.

Carefully add the coated tofu pieces into the pan. Cook without moving until the bottom is browned, 2 minutes or so. Flip to cook the other side until browned, another 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium if the pan gets too hot and the oil starts to smoke. Repeat the process until you’ve fried all the tofu pieces.

Transfer the fried tofu onto the paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

Serve the fried tofu with the reserved dipping sauce on the side and garnish it with chopped green onion. Enjoy!

Notes:
I put green onion in the marinade container so the liquid would rise high enough to cover the tofu. You can skip it if the marinade covers the tofu already.

Sriracha, Thai chili paste, doubanjiang, and any other type of hot sauce will work in this recipe. Note, if you use doubanjiang, skip the salt in the coating since doubanjiang contains a lot of salt already.

The nutrition facts were calculated based on an estimate of the amount of marinade that gets absorbed by the tofu.

Ideas for Egg Lunches: all’Amatriciana

1/2 pound of unsliced pancetta or prosciutto
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds canned tomatoes, preferably imported Italian
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino, romano or Parmesan cheese

Cut the pancetta or prosciutto into chunks less than one-half inch thick. Place in a saucepan with the olive oil and fry over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the fat has been rendered out and the meat is very crisp. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium heat for five minutes.

Drain the tomatoes, finely chop them and add to the onion in the pan. Season with red-pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over eggs topped with cheese.

Potato and White Bean Puttanesca Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup black olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 pound Yukon gold or red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems (or fresh basil leaves)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper

Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.

Reduce heat to medium and add 1/4 cup black olives, 1 tablespoon capers and the garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic is lightly golden.

Add the tomatoes and sugar, and cook over medium heat until mixture is bubbling and tomatoes have thickened slightly, 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, cannellini beans, red-pepper flakes and stock; stir and cover. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

As potatoes cook, prepare the topping for your soup: Place the remaining 1/4 cup olives, 1 tablespoon capers and the parsley on a cutting board, and chop everything together.

Once the potatoes are tender, add the balsamic vinegar. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, roughly crush or mash about a quarter of the potatoes and beans against the side of the pot. This will thicken the soup. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the caper-olive-parsley topping. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. This soup can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. This will deepen the flavors.

Bucatini Cacio e Pepe with Cherry Tomatoes

1 pound bucatini, broken in half
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon very coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon very coarsely ground white pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes
1 3/4 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (6 ounces)
Salt

Cook the bucatini in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the bucatini and return it to the pot. Add the olive oil, black and white pepper and the reserved pasta water. Add the cherry tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, season with salt and toss well. Transfer to a large, warmed pasta bowl and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Serve at once.

Cacio e Pepe with Butter and Broccoli Rabe

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
1 pound dried spaghetti

Mash softened butter with cheese, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Roll butter in parchment; freeze until firm.

Cook broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; drain pasta.

In a serving bowl, toss pasta with broccoli rabe. Using a box or hand grater, grate some compound butter over pasta and toss vigorously to coat. Season with salt and toss again. Serve immediately.