The close friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was soldered back in high school, when we first discovered that we were the only two girls in the entire school who had never had a boyfriend (well, I guess there was “BB,” too, but we figured that sleeping with the entire senior class had to count for something).
This revelation prompted an immediate sense of community between us, after which we spent endless hours (in the way that only teenagers can) on the telephone, musing about why we didn’t have a boyfriend, how much we wished we could have a boyfriend, what we would do if we ever got a boyfriend, and what it was other girls like BB had that we didn’t, allowing them to seemingly conjure streams of drooling boys trailing behind them like empty cans tied to a “Just Married” car bumper. Entirely unjustly, we thought, these girls enjoyed a surfeit of boyfriends, while we had to make do with an unrequited crush on our French teacher, Mr. Krauser.
But then, we discovered historical romance novels, and our focus shifted. You know the ones: innocent, nubile, yet spunky lass is swept away (usually literally) by swaggering, swarthy, self-assured rake with a (very well hidden) heart of gold. Over time, he wins her devotion, while she tames his savage nature. Well, we were spunky, weren’t we? Sterlin and I began to daydream, starry-eyed, about meeting a similar hero (even though we never fully understood exactly what a “rake” was) and riding off into the sunset, where he’d unravel the secrets of our nascent womanhood and we would charm his wild heart.
In the books, at least, we could get close to the most desirable of men. For some reason, these novels (at least, the ones I remember) all sported titles pairing two nouns, representing male and female: there was The Wolf and the Dove, and The Flame and The Flower (both Kathleen E. Woodiwiss masterworks) or perhaps The Raven and The Rose or The Pirate and the Pagan (both by Virginia Henley). And let’s not forget my favorite, The French Teacher and the Girl with Braces and Long Hair Parted in the Middle Who Liked to Bake (okay, my memory may be a bit fuzzy on that one–high school was a long time ago!).
Well, given our combined paucity of feminine wiles flirting ability lacy lingerie boyfriend-attracting attributes, we eventually decided to woo our guys with food (the way to a man’s heart, and all that). So Sterlin developed Date Pasta as her staple, while I attempted to perfect an ideal chocolate cheesecake, or brownie, or even muffin (since, you know, I had high hopes of my
French teacher imaginary beau staying for breakfast).
Those erstwhile romantic efforts came back to me in a flash last week after I’d been browsing through some old cookbooks. Previously, I’d had a little email exchange with Lisa (Show Me Vegan) about buying or keeping cookbooks we no longer really use, or those that contain only a smattering of recipes still relevant to our newly acquired dietary habits.
One such tome in my collection is called The Breakfast Book, by Diana Terry (and though I’ve owned this book since the 1980s, I never realized until today that it was published in Australia–which, I may have mentioned, is the land of my dreams, with its picturesque vistas, lush wilderness, stunning cities, enviable weather, and dashing, rakish Aussie gentlemen–all of whom just happen to speak with that sexy Australian accent).
Ah, yes, well. Pardon me: back to the book. Terry offers a sample menu for a brunch with a decidedly orange theme. The lucky boyfriend guest is treated to Champagne with Grand Marnier, Scrambled Eggs with Wholemeal Brioches, Fresh Fruit with Ricotta-Orange Dip, and Viennese-Style Coffee. Of course, none of the recipes would suit me in its present form, but that certainly didn’t stop this spunky gal.
After reading about the citrus-suffused eggs that were then gingerly ladled over a split brioche, its top placed rakishly askew, I asked myself: “Who said tofu scrambles should be savory, anyway? Why not sweet? And why must they always be one shade shy of neon yellow? And couldn’t my own, homemade, biscuits stand in for a brioche? And just what does “rakishly” actually mean, anyway?”
So I created this scramble, which is slightly sweet and not too yellow. And it’s very creamy. And it has orange zest and juice in it. And you ladle it gingerly over the bottom of a carob and raisin biscuit, the top of which is placed rakishly askew over it.
And may I just say–I ended up loving this dish. In fact, our affair bordered on the torrid. Who needs a boyfriend? I’d rather eat this*. But if you’re feeling generous, go ahead and share it with your wolf, or your flame, or your rake.
*Okay, not really. If I had to choose between a sweet tofu scramble and my sweet HH, of course the HH would win out. But just barely.
Sweet Scramble with Carob-Raisin Biscuits
based on an idea in The Breakfast Book by Diana Terry
This dish makes a lovely first course for a brunch, and looks fairly impressive, too. If your biscuits are not the rakish kind, then just serve them in a basket with jams and spreads alongside the scramble. Add a crisp, green salad, for a full meal.
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (90 ml.) natural smooth almond butter
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) turmeric
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
zest of one large orange, preferably organic
juice of one large orange (about 1/3 cup or 80 ml.)
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) pure maple syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml.) water
1/4 cup (60 ml.) fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 block (about 400 g.) firm or extra-firm tofu (the kind in its own plastic wrapper, not in a tub filled with water)
4-6 biscuits, warm (you can use my recipe, below, or another one)
In a large frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring often, until onions soften and begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes.
While the onions cook, combine the almond butter, tahini, turmeric, nutritional yeast, sea salt, zest, juice, maple syrup and water in a small bowl. Whisk to create a creamy sauce.
Rinse the tofu and crumble it into scrambled-egg-like bits, or dice into small cubes. (If you have time, you can press it first to remove some of the moisture, but this isn’t necessary).
Once the onions are cooked, pour the sauce into the pan and top with the tofu. Stir to coat all the tofu bits with sauce. Add the parsley and stir it into the mixture. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until heated through, 3-5 minutes.
Cut the biscuits in half and place the bottoms on single-serving plates. Spoon a generous serving of the tofu over the bottom and cover each with the tops, at–you guessed it–a rakish angle. Makes 4-6 servings.
Carob and Raisin Biscuits
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (90 ml.) plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing tops
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. (5 ml.) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/3 cup (35 g.) raisins
1/2 cup (70 g.) whole spelt flour
1/4 cup (35 g.) light spelt flour
1/4 cup (35 g.) carob powder
1 tsp. (5 ml.) cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 ml.) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the soymilk, oil, vinegar and Sucanat. Add the raisins and stir to coat them with the liquid mixture; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, carob powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just until the mixture comes together in a soft dough.
Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet 2 inches (5 cm.) apart. Wet your palms and flatten each biscuit slightly.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove the pan and brush the tops of the biscuits with more olive oil. Rotate the pan and bake another 5-10 minutes, until the biscuits are well browned and dry. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Makes 4-5 biscuits. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Raw Almond-Veggie Pâté
© 2009 Ricki Heller
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