cooking recipes

I Begged a Restaurant for This Outrageously Good Whipped Tofu Recipe

I’m a lover of all things whipped: cream, ricotta, feta, cashew-sambal sauce. But it wasn’t until I found myself at Second Generation, a family-owned Asian-inspired restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square, that I came face to face with my new obsession, whipped tofu.

Siblings Vicki Kim and Edward Kim, along with their business partner, Nate Chung, became known in the Chicago scene for their beloved burger joint, Mini Mott. In October of 2022, they transitioned the space (and the burger) into Second Generation, where the menu reflects their heritage as second-generation Asian Americans with dishes like kalbi steak frites and kimchi potato hash.

I’ve gathered you here today to discuss a nourishing dish of heirloom grains, seasonal vegetables, almond dukkah, and the star, whipped tofu. In truth, I ordered this off the brunch menu to bring some roughage onto a table that otherwise boasted a chicken katsu sandwich and pork belly atop ginger congee. The vegetables range from rainbow carrots to golden beets to fragrant fennel, brightened by a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. But it was the whipped tofu of which I couldn’t stop myself from going back for another spoonful.

I could’ve sworn it was ricotta or feta, but I was grateful to chef Edward Kim, who shares my intolerance for dairy, that it was tofu. Kim wanted something creamy for the dish, but also wanted it to be totally vegan. The result is a satisfying yet light swoosh, and it’s easy enough to recreate at home.

Here’s how to make Whipped Tofu:

Crumble 1 (14-oz.) block of firm tofu into a blender or food processor. add 6 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oiland the zest of 1 medium lemon. Blend, scraping down as needed, until you reach a creamy, silky consistency, 1–2 minutes. If your mixture is still grainy, you can add more moisture (water or soy milk) or fat (extra-virgin olive oil), a spoonful at a time. Generously season with salt and pepper.

You can serve it anywhere you’d use ricotta or other spreadable cheese—with crudités, in a tomato salad, or like Second Generation, with roasted vegetables and chewy grains. We also give you permission to eat it right out of the food processor with a spoon.

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Simple red-sauce recipe for Italian weeknight cooking

On a recent random Tuesday, my partner and I strolled past La Pergoletta, the old-school Italian American restaurant in Los Feliz that’s a staple of the neighborhood. Remarking that we’d lived in the neighborhood for four years but still had yet to eat there, we impulsively walked in for dinner. Expecting a quiet midweek crowd, we were instead greeted by a rowdy mix of 10- and five-top tables and parties going on all around us. We ate Caesar salad, dipped crusty bread in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinaigrette, and shared a bubbling brick of lasagna Bolognese. it was perfect.

As a rice lover who accordingly veers toward Mexican, Southeast Asian or Indian flavors for my go-to comfort food, I often have to remind myself how fun and delicious this type of Italian food can be, a revelation I usually keep to myself to avoid the eye rolls or deadpan stares from literally all of my friends. But, as life is a circle, so too is my adoration of Italian food, and so I’ve been taking my renewed interest in it for a ride all week with some simple Italian-ish weeknight meals from our archives.

It doesn’t get any easier or better than Dawn Perry’s Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions. Whether I use sausages from the supermarket or home-made ones from my butcher, they all taste great when roasted with a tangle of onions and bursting cherry tomatoes. Perry calls for serving the sausages and veggies atop a slab of good sourdough bread, but I have to admit more than a couple of times, I’ve stuffed them in a sandwich roll and eaten it fairground-style.

For a more sit-down dinner dish, I go to my Slow-Roasted Salmon With Dill and Lemon Salsa Verde. The salsa verde — the Italian kind, not the Mexican sauce — is made with fresh dill combined with chopped lemon and spiced with fennel and cumin seeds, bolstered with chopped walnuts. You make the salsa while the salmon roasts, then shower it over the top while hot from the oven. I love it served with an arugula salad or on a bed of soft polenta.

And then there’s Danielle Campbell’s Creamy “Alla Amatriciana-Ish” Pasta that takes the classic amateur treatment but uses easier-to-find pancetta — in lieu of guanciale — and enriches the spicy tomato sauce with cream. I pair it with Genevieve Ko’s Buttery Garlic Bread, which lives up to its name and then some. Garlic is simmered slowly in butter until it’s perfumed and sweet, then slathered over crusty Italian bread and toasted until crunchy and aromatic. It’s the sort of instantly gratifying Italian-ish comfort food that everyone loves — and that I have to be reminded of from time to time.

Sheet Pan Sausages With Cherry Tomatoes and Onions

All the cooking for this dish takes place in the oven and couldn’t be easier to prepare for. You can even prep the onions on the baking sheet in advance and refrigerate them for a day so you can throw them directly in the oven when ready to start cooking.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

Sausages with Cherry Tomatoes and Onions on a sheet pan next to a plate of sliced ​​bread

(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Slow-Roasted Salmon With Dill and Lemon Salsa Verde

A simple side of salmon gets showered with an Italian-style salsa verde, made with dill, walnuts and lemon, as soon as it comes out of the oven to add brightness to the rich fish. Make the salsa verde up to 1 day in advance and keep chilled until ready to use.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

A dish of baked salmon topped with dill and lemon

(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Creamy ‘Alla Amatriciana-Ish’ Pasta

A riff on the Roman classic, this pasta is coated in a thick, rich tomato-and-cream sauce. Use any pasta you like, particularly one with nooks and crannies or hollow insides to catch all the sauce.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

A hand reaches for red pepper flakes to add to a plate of spaghetti in a tomato sauce

(Danielle Campbell / For The Times)

Buttery Garlic Bread

Inspired by Italian-American red-sauce restaurants, this classic garlic bread starts with a rich garlic butter. The proportions below yield enough to spread on a 1-pound Italian loaf, but you can use a smaller loaf and reserve the remaining garlic butter for future use.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 15 minutes.

Four slices of garlic bread on a wooden cutting board

(Genevieve Ko/Los Angeles Times)

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Review #124: Bunnahabhain 18: A Full Bodied Islay Sherry Monster

I make a little secret of my love for sherried whiskies. There are few things I appreciate more than a monster that marries sherry and malt. Bunnahbhain 18 offers sherry in spades; the costal distillery combines rich, full bodied sherry with salty sea spray.

I got this one a few months back, after I spied it selling for around around $100 at K&L spirits. Bunnahbhain is one of my favorite distilleries on Islay. It’s tucked in the north eastern corner of the island, next to Caol Ila, and near the town of Port Askaig, which offers ferry service to the nearby island of Jura. Most of Bunnahbhain’s spirits are unpeated, and those that do come with peat are generally really lightly ground. Most of their spirit goes into Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark and generally matured in sherry.

I also appreciate the fact that Bunnahabhain have started edging up the ABV in their general spirits. This one is only a smidge over 40%, clocking in at 46.3% ABV, but it still tastes much better than it would at the legal minimum. Bunnahbhain also ditched caramel coloring, and chill filtration woohoo!!!

A dead bottle of Bunnahabhain 18

Bunnahbhain 18 Whiskey Review

Tasting Notes

Nose: Salty sea spray, sherried figs and plums, cherries and candy. Palate: Lots of toffee and sherry pudding. Full bodied and rich like an oloroso. Malty mid palate with plums and caramel. Finish: Lingering taste of figs and toffee. Very long and pleasant finish.

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Additional Information

About Bunnahabhain

  • Bunnahabhain is one of the largest distilleries in Islay, with four pot stills with 30,000 L capacity, producing more than 2M liters of pure spirit per year.
  • The distillery was originally founded in 1881.
  • Bunnahabhain is close to Port Askaig and the ferry to Islay. It’s also right next to Caol Ila.

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Big Mistakes Everyone Makes When Cooking Steak In The Oven

One mistake people make when cooking steaks happens before they even step into the kitchen. When the craving for a juicy cut of steak hits, it’s important to remember you can’t just buy any cut of beef and expect great results. Every cut has specific qualities that thrive in different settings. For example, a T-bone goes great on a grill, while a ribeye might work better on a frying pan thanks to its higher fat content.

According to Shawn Hill, founder and pitmaster of The Grilling Dad, choosing the right cut when oven-cooking steak is just as important. “While any cut of steak can be cooked in the oven,” he says, “thicker cuts like ribeye and filet mignon work particularly well as they retain moisture and develop a beautiful crust. Look for steaks with a good amount of marbling for maximum flavor .”

Also, keep away from lean cuts of beef. Although they have their place in the kitchen, they often end up dry and tough after a stint in the oven, as fat is what really brings flavor and juiciness to the perfect steak. However, the perfect cut of beef for your steak doesn’t need to be expensive, as long as you know what to look for. This might take some trial and error, but once you develop an eye for the best cuts, it will create a great foundation for your steak.

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Edradour – the Fairy Flag Review

Sylvia received a handful of samples when she visited Big Market, an incredible whiskey shop in Berlin that’s not too far from the Berlin airport and allows tastings for nominal fees of the majority of whiskies that the store sells. The mini-bottle was one of the samples given on-the-house from the store, since she walked out with an American-sized haul. The bottling stylistically is a bit strange and features a verse on the bottle:

Some conflicts are fought in the heart
as well as the battlefield

Whiskey bottles

This is a limited edition bottling of Edradour which was released in honor of the Scottish feature film Fairy Flag. The film is an epic romance between the Clan Chief of the Macleod’s and the mysterious Fairy maiden, Titania, who needed to return to fairyland and bequeathed the fairy flag upon the clan. I spent a while trying to look up IMDB and Rotten Tomato reviews on it, but the closest I could find was a listing for a 3-part documentary detailing the making of the film. I’ll presume it’s fairly good – to have a whiskey made in honor of it. The fairy flag itself is an heirloom of Clan MacLeod, which is said to have magical properties – made from Chinese silk and covered in small red “elf dots”. Among its magical powers are to multiply military forces, increase fertility, cure plague on cattle, and was thought to give luck to servicemen on bombing missions in World War II.

Now onto the whiskey itself – it’s very sweet – romantic, even and I enjoyed it a lot. Full tasting notes below the picture of the mini-bottle (and the cat).

Edradour – the Fairy Flag 15 years old.
Also featuring our 8 year old cat in the background.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Sherry, VERY SHERRY, plums, apples, fresh fruit.

Palate: Caramel, cherries, some vanilla, bread pudding. Butterscotch.

Finish: Sweet milk chocolate.

Score: 7.5/10. very good. It’s definitely a sherry monster and sweet – a lot of really nice decadent dessert notes on it. It’s a shame it’s an exclusive release because I don’t think I’ll get to try it again.

Quick overview of our scoring system


Additional Information

  • ABVs: 46%
  • Aged in ex-bourbon casks for 8 years, then aged in first fill, ex-oloroso sherry casks for a further 8 years.
  • Unchill filtered, natural color.

About Edradour

A few years back we visited the magical Edradour distillery. We were told it was a must visit from a few fellow drinkers at San Francisco’s Whiskey Shop, and we were able to check it out, driving down from Speyside back to Glasgow. Edradour is located next to Pitlochary, a quintessential English / Scottish village. It looks like the village from Hot Fuzz (before it gets blown up anyway).

  • Edrarour is Scotland’s “smallest distillery.” Not entirely sure if that is true, but they make 18 casks per week, 95,000 liters capacity (6% of Bruichladdich, 0.7% of Glenfiddich)
  • Established in 1825, originally run by three men, now only two.
  • Closed and opened, including in 1938 by Irvin Haim, (from the Costello family). Bought by Signatory in 2002.

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Eastern Cork, Riff on the Corktown Cocktail

A few years back we visited Boston’s Eastern Standard bar and wrote about our experience. The wonderful bar, along with its companion The Hawthorne, closed a few months ago which is a real shame for the city. I haven’t recently been back to Boston, so I didn’t know too much about the cocktail. All I had to go on was that it had a Prizefighter Irish Whiskey base spirit, Lillet Blanc dry vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, and a pear brandy rinse.

Of that set of ingredients, the Amaro Montenegro was the only one I had handy, so I started a few rounds of experimenting and riffing on the recipe before I had something I was proud of. I’m not sure Jackson would be proud, but it’s always fun to tinker.

I subbed the blended scotch in the original recipe with Great King Glasgow Blend, which is a lightly peated blended whiskey from the good folks at Compass Box. It’s a bit unusual in that it contains only around 30% grain whiskey, vs. the 70+% that’s typical in most blended whiskies. It’s not overwhelmingly smoky, but it brings out some of the vanilla notes in the Montenegro.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend
  • .75 oz Lillet Blanc
  • .5 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • Barspoon Starwberry Brandy

Glass

Cocktail Glass

Instructions

  • Rinse a cocktail glass with strawberry brandy
  • Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice
  • Stir and strain into cocktail glass.

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