Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Cold Tofu Noodle Salad May 23, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:19 AM
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As a vegetarian cook, I regularly work with tofu to create Asian food at home. A lot of non-vegetarians get freaked out by tofu, but I truly believe more people would like it if they had properly prepared tofu. Over the past year I’ve discovered that baking tofu with a little sesame oil and soy sauce marinade is a fool-proof way to season tofu and create the right texture. From there you can toss the tofu in with any stir-fry or noodle dish and complete your meal.

The other week, as the Texas heat started to kick into high gear, I wanted to create a cold Asian dish with tons of flavor and just a little spice for dinner. I started with this recipe for curried udon noodles and added a jalapeno and chili sauce instead of a red chile. For the noodles, it’s always worth a special trip to an Asian market if you can make it happen. The texture and thickness of the noodles is so much better than what you often find in the Asian section of your grocery store. I saved back some of the sauce in step 4 to add when combining the noodles with the baked tofu. I chilled the tofu and noodles for about an hour and let it come almost to room temperature before serving.

A simple, flavorful dish that was great that night and even better later in the week for a lunch leftover meal.


Dining In: Homemade Hot and Sour Soup November 19, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 2:28 PM
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I didn’t always love hot and sour soup. Growing up I opted for egg drop when we would go out for Asian food, but my dad always seemed to order at least a cup of hot and sour soup. If it was on the menu, he would give it a whirl — most often with general disappointment in it. Now, my dad is very particular about his soup…it’s never hot enough for him. Sometimes he may comment on the flavor, consistency, but ALWAYS the temperature. When my mom fixes soup she will often warm the soup bowls and microwave my dad’s portion before serving it to him. Anyone who has shared enough meals with my dad is well aware of his temperament when it comes to soup.

So, back to hot and sour soup. Later in life I decided to give it a whirl and really liked it. Like my dad, I love to order it whenever I get the chance; however, I do not fuss as much about the ‘hot’ part of the soup.

When I came across this recipe for an easy hot and sour soup, I knew it was time to try making this delicious soup myself. I made a few changes to make it vegetarian, but it truly is an easy soup to make. Don’t be intimidated!


  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 scallion, minced


  1. Lightly steam the mushrooms in a bowl of hot water. Cover, and set aside for a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms and slice thinly. Reserve the mushroom liquid.
  2. Pour the stock and soy sauce into a large pot along with the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, add the sliced mushrooms, the mushroom liquid, and bamboo shoots. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Toss in the tofu, pepper, and vinegar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  4. Whisk together the cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of cold water. When pot is boiling, add the cornstarch slurry and stir well until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the egg. Stir gently until it is incorporated.
  5. Serve the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of scallion.

As you can tell from the above photo, my wonderful parents joined me for dinner. My dad graciously picked up some spring rolls from our favorite Thai place and a couple bottles of Pinot. He loved the soup (you can see the steam rising from the bowls)!


Dining In: Asian-Flavored Fish in a Pouch April 20, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 7:28 PM
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It’s been a while since I cooked fish or cooked for my friends…so I decided to kill two birds with one stone (or get everything I wanted in one night).

The recipe from Serious Eats caught my eye because of the cilantro, ginger and unique baking approach. Ashley contributed her now legendary asparagus and Kristy some light jasmine rice. Add two bottles of white wine and we had a fabulous girls night!

Asian-Flavored Fish in a Pouch

3 fresh fish fillets (I used Tilapia)
2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (add another if it is a weak pepper)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
Dash of sesame oil
Dash of soy sauce
Dash fish sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lay the fillets, skin side down, on a piece of parchment paper that will easily fit them.

2. In a bowl, stir together the ginger, garlic, scallion, jalapeño, cilantro, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Distribute this mixture on top of the fish. Wrap the parchment paper around the fish to form a packet; seal. Place in oven; cook 10 to 12 minutes.

fish in a pouch

3. Remove fish from the oven and unwrap. Serve over jasmine rice!

asian-flavored fish