All the world is nuts about
What's in The Nut Gourmet
I've turned to tofu to shine brightly in this month's festive dishes. Although we've featured both these recipes in the past, they're so ideal for the holidays it seemed the perfect season to let them sparkle.
The first timbale I created was the Curried Christmas Timbale. The colors were so eye-appealing and the seasonings so well received I began to experiment with other versions.
Cinco de Mayo became the inspiration for the Tampico Timbales that feature south of the border flavors with green chiles, corn kernels, and a good measure of Mexican seasonings.
Two plusses make these dishes ideal for holiday season cooking--they're so unfussy and easy to make and they can be made a day or two ahead. What home cook doesn't appreciate that realm of ultra-convenience at holiday time?
Both dishes lend themselves to creative presentations, so have fun playing with garnishing these cute little timbales in your cozy kitchen. If you make one or both of these, we'd love it if you would send us the photo. We'll be delighted to share the photos with our readers.
Prepare an all-out showstopper that has both savory and visual appeal for special occasions like Christmas. Arrange these golden timbales in a circle on a large platter and fill the center with steamed vegetables. Spoon the Bell Pepper Relish over the tops of the timbales and around the outer edges of the platter. To ease the holiday stress, prepare these a day ahead (see note).
Curried Christmas Timbales
with Bell Pepper Relish
Yield: 6 servings
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole almonds
1 pound (453g) firm tofu, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Bell Pepper Relish
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup (60 ml) black raisins
2 tablespoons pistachios
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
Dash hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- TO MAKE THE TIMBALES, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) and line a 6-section, standard-size muffin pan with paper baking cups.
- Grind the almonds into a coarse, chunky meal in a food processor.
- Add the tofu, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, curry powder, salt, coriander, onion powder, turmeric, pepper, and mustard powder to the food processor and process until moist, creamy, and well blended. If the mixture is too dry or crumbly, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water to moisten, then, process again thoroughly.
- Fill the muffin cups with the tofu mixture. Pack it down to fill any air spaces, and smooth the tops. Bake the timbales for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert the muffin pan to release the timbales, and carefully remove the muffin papers.
- TO MAKE THE RELISH, combine the peppers, onions, raisins, pistachios, olive oil, water, and optional cayenne in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are almost browned. Add the hot sauce and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top each timbale with a spoonful of the relish.
NOTE: For advance preparation, make the timbales a day ahead and reheat them in a preheated 350 degree F. (Gas Mark 4) oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
While tofu is definitively atypical of Mexican cuisine, it can easily adapt to the familiar south-of-the-border flavors. These unique little timbales are compelling and make a tasty entrée or side dish with alluring appeal. They just might tempt the reluctant tofu skeptic into tasting. One small sample is sufficient to create another tofu convert. The timbales can be prepared a day ahead and simply wrapped with aluminum foil and reheated at 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4).
Yield: 12 servings
1/2 cup (120 ml) minced sweet onions
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup (60 ml) canned diced mild green chiles
1 pound (453g) extra firm tofu
1/2 cup (120 ml) medium-spiced red or green salsa
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
12 medium-size lettuce leaves
1/3 cup (80 ml) prepared or homemade guacamole
2 to 3 red chiles
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) and line two 6-section muffin tins with paper baking cups. Have ready a large serving platter.
- Combine the onions, corn, and green chiles in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Put the tofu, salsa, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt in the food processor and process until smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides of the work bowl and process again until all the timbale ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- Transfer the tofu mixture to the bowl with the onions and mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Spoon the timbale mixture into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the timbales are firm and lightly browned on top.
- Line the serving platter with the lettuce leaves, invert the timbales and place each one on a lettuce leaf. Carefully remove the paper baking cups and garnish the tops with dollops of guacamole. Slice the red chiles into rings and top each guacamole dollop with a red crown.
Note: The timbales can also double as an appetizer by baking them in three 12-section mini-muffin pans at 350 degrees F. (Gas Mark 4) for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve them as finger food with a dollop of guacamole on the top. The recipe makes 3 dozen mini timbales
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