Hera’s Spicy Tofu Bake is a recipe given to me by my dear friend Hera, way back in 1989.  I’m presenting it here today in honour of Jo Wake, who died on December 16th.  Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh explains:

Jo Wake blogged at Jo on Food, Life, and a Scent of Chocolate. She was part of the Dragon Fellowship, known as Grandma Dragon to the group, and we have decided to do something in her honor.

On February 6, share a recipe that brings them warm memories of friendship and love in honor of blogger Josephine “Jo” Wake who passed away December 16, 2020. 

My friend Hera and me

Hera's Los Angeles meet with me
Hera and me (I was at my WW goal weight then – severely underweight!)

We met because of a shared love of Broadway musicals. I say Broadway, but we actually met in line for Phantom of the Opera tickets in London. That was how life was in 1988, Dave Willetts was the Phantom at that time, and Hera loved him. I was still addicted to Phantom, but I met a lot of interesting people in the line (queue) for returned tickets! In 1989 I went travelling, and to cut a long story short, Hera and I met up in Los Angeles, where Phantom was playing, starring Michael Crawford at that time. It was my birthday, and we had a great time. A few weeks later I stayed at Hera’s lovely house in St Louis, which was where she cooked me this dish, and wrote out the recipe for me.

I know I still have the original, because I found it when I was moving. I just haven’t found where I’ve put it yet… But over the years I’ve made it from memory many times–so much so that it now varies considerably from the original, and quantities are a bit rough! As I haven’t got a working oven, I’m going to try cooking it in the microwave next time I try it. I’ll let you know how that works out!

Hera’s Spicy Tofu Bake

spicy tofu bake
It should like something like this, but yellower, from the turmeric

Vegetarian; uses eggs and cheese. Vegans could try substituting a small amount of white sauce to hold it all together, and vegan cheese.

  • 1 pack plain tofu (soybean curd), mashed up in a 2 pint bowl (I’ve also made it with smoked tofu, which is delish)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper (bell pepper), sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp or less dried chilli (or one green chilli, chopped finely)
  • 1 cup cooked rice or 1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tin peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2-4 oz (1 cup) grated cheese (a good cooking cheese like cheddar)

If you have a casserole that can go on top of the stove, use that, otherwise start in a frying pan or skillet. Set the oven to about 160-180 C. I’m thinking about gas mark 4, but I’m really hazy on this. It’s sort of cake temperature.

  • Put the oil in the pan and fry the onion gently for a few minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper.
  • When the onion is more or less transparent, add the spices and turn the veggies in it, cook for a minute.
  • While the onion is cooking, mash up the tofu, fold in the rice or sweetcorn, add the eggs, and enough tomatoes to make it sloppy, but not runny.
  • Add about half the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. ( I don’t think cheese here was in the original recipe!)
  • Turn the mixture into the frying pan to mix, and transfer to a greased oven proof dish; or into the casserole and remove from the hob. Stir well.
  • Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top, and if you like, decorate with some slices of tomato if you have them.
  • Bake in the oven until set, about 20-30 minutes, I’m guessing. It should be a bit crispy round the edges and firm on top, but not dry in the middle.

Serve with a salad.

It’s not bad cold, but hot is better. It can cope with sitting for a while, either before cooking or after, so it’s a useful family dish! I’d say it works with red wine better than white, too 🙂

Hera and I still exchange Christmas cards and occasional emails still, although Hera’s card this year went to the old address. I must check up that she noticed the new one in my card to her!

Tofu bake photo from The Wolf Post. I’m tempted to try their recipe, it looks nice 🙂

In Honour Of…| Hera’s Spicy Tofu Bake
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10 thoughts on “In Honour Of…| Hera’s Spicy Tofu Bake

  • 3 February, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Hi Jemima – interesting recipe for Jo … and lovely to have the back story about some of your travels, your love of the Phantom, and of meeting and staying friends with Hera … great you were able to stay with her. Look after yourself – Hilary

  • 3 February, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for your great recipe in memory of Jo. My oven is broken but I have a toaster oven that I could make it in. And thanks for sharing about your friendship with Hera.

    • 3 February, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      I’ve been baking small things in my bread machine – cooking some samosas from frozen as I type! And pan roasting other things like potatoes and parsnips, which worked fine with Christmas dinner. That makes me wonder if I could use the bread machine for this, too, although it isn’t usually something you’d turn out to serve.
      Thanks for visiting, Natalie.

  • 3 February, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    That does sound yummy, and I do like a glimpse into your past :).

  • 3 February, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Lovely way to honour Jo Wake Jemima and both the story behind the dish and the recipe are terrific.. great dish for meatless Mondays.. It is in the Blogger Daily Thurday…hugsx

  • 3 February, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you for joining the bloghop in honor to Jo. That recipe is something I’ll have to try some time soon.

  • 3 February, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Ooh now, I’m saving this! The smoked tofu version sounds particularly delicious. I didn’t know Jo, but this is the second tribute (after Hilary’s) I have read this evening.

  • 4 February, 2021 at 12:36 am

    I know Jo would love to have collected all these new recipes. Thanks for your kind words in her memory.

  • 5 February, 2021 at 2:46 am

    I am sorry for the passing of your friend, Jemima. A small part of us goes too, the memories our friend had of us. At least we can hold on of what we remember. A blessing to write about it in any way.
    A delicious recipe, and extra-special for it comes with a story of a beautiful friendship. We love the Phantom too in our home here in South Africa :). Thank you for sharing.
    Visiting over from Sally’s.

    Best wishes. Stay safe.

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