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
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
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 🙂
© J M Pett 2021
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 🙂