In my kitchen I have a wooden shelf unit, painted orange, which my dad made for me. I use it to hold my cookbooks. All three of the shelves are full of beautiful and interesting cookbooks, close at hand whenever I need to look up a recipe. And yet, I rarely do. I have memorized, or adapted some of the recipes in these books, but there are so many others waiting to be discovered. Part of the problem is that I like to use what I have on hand rather than buying specific ingredients for an exact recipe. I almost always adapt recipes to my liking and make due without the ingredients I can't find in the cupboard or refrigerator.
One of the books on the shelf is called Hope's Edge, written by Frances Moore Lappe and her daughter Anna Lappe. It chronicles the two women's journey around the world searching for and documenting positive things people are doing with food, for the environment and against hunger and poverty. It was written several years ago and some of the people they met have become well known for the work they have done, such as Wangari Maathai and Muhammad Yunus. Not only is it a fascinating book, it also includes recipes from all over the world and recipes from chefs who have changed or added to the way food is grown, cooked and served.
I don't remember the first time I made this recipe, but I know that every time I have made the Thai Tofu Spread from Chef Karen Franzmeier at St. Martin's Table in Minneapolis, it has been wonderful. No matter how you feel about tofu, you've got to give it a try. Its great as a dip or in a sandwich or salad. I like seeing if people can guess all the ingredients -- they come together to create an amazing flavor and hearty, yet light, taste. Despite requiring several ingredients, it comes together really quickly and is pretty forgiving if you leave something out.
Thai Tofu Spread
Adapted from Karen Franzmeier at St. Martin's Table
8 ounce firm tofu
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of one lime
3 tablespoons tamari
Squeeze extra water from tofu, then mash it with a pastry cutter or fork. Combine tofu, carrot, garlic, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, blend together until smooth: peanut butter, lime zest, cayenne pepper, lime juice and tamari. Fold into tofu mixture until everything is evenly mixed. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve on bread, crackers, chips or eat plain. Store refrigerated.