10 August 2012
Tofu scramble and potatoes rösti
This weekend our friend Chrissy came up from Santa Cruz to hang out. At our house, "hang out" includes not only staying up until all hours gossiping, but also getting up in the morning for a delightful farmer's market expedition and a massive brunch at home. Best brunching forever!
This time, we decided to make a vegetable-heavy tofu scramble and a panful of rösti.
Tofu scramble is obviously pretty widely known as the breakfast of vegetarians and vegans--but what is rösti? Well. It's a Swiss potato cake that bears a reasonable resemblance to hash browns. Essentially, it's grated potatoes cooked in butter or oil until they form a delightful cake. Who wouldn't want one of those at brunch?
Wikipedia tells me that rösti is only eaten in German-speaking parts of Switzerland, but this seems off. For one thing, I first heard of it in a book of essays by Laurie Colwin, a longtime denizen of NYC. For another, we've watched Jacques Pepin not only make a rösti but also tell us what it's traditionally called in France--pommes paillasson, which translates to "doormat potatoes"--so obviously rösti is also made in French-speaking areas at the very least. The finished cake does indeed look like a doormat! It's just a much tastier doormat than you can find just about anywhere else.
Tofu scramble with fresh garden veg and basil
scallion/other onion of your choice
chard or other greens
turmeric, oregano, marjoram, salt, pepper
fresh basil or parsley
Start by sauteing chopped scallion or onion in some olive oil in a frying pan of your choice. When it's soft, start adding any other vegetable you think would be tasty. I put in a bunch of various sweet peppers, a tomato or two, and a jalapeno. Keep any greens and fresh herbs to the side for last-minute addition.
While your vegetables are cooking, prep your tofu. In a large bowl, break up a block of tofu roughly with a fork. Season with a little turmeric, some oregano and marjoram, and salt and pepper. If you want to go for a totally different spice mix, that should work too. Anything that works with your vegetables should turn out fine.
When your vegetables are cooked through, add your tofu to the pan and stir to mix. Add a couple big handfuls of chopped greens of your choice too. When the tofu is hot through and the greens are just wilted, taste for seasoning and take the pan off the heat. Stir in a couple handfuls of fresh chopped basil right before serving.
Hooray! Scrambled tofu for all!
Rösti aka Pommes Paillasson aka Doormat Potatoes
Start by prepping your potatoes. Peel them, grate them, and squeeze them in a dishcloth (or over a bowl) to remove as much liquid as possible. The secret is squeezing out all the water in the potatoes! Be thorough!
Chop up some scallion greens or other onion device of your choice. Add them to the dry potato shreds and season well with salt and pepper. Mix well.
Now heat up a large frying pan of your choice on medium-high. Cast iron is probably the best choice here; we used a large nonstick pan. I'd choose the widest pan you can manage, keeping in mind that you're going to have to flip the potato cake eventually. The thinner you can make your potato cake, the better.
Pour a large slug of olive oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Then lay in your potato mixture, pressing it down firmly as you go. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until your potato cake is dark golden brown on the underside. This should take somewhere around eight to ten minutes, depending on your stove.
Now it's time to flip. Wear oven mitts while you're doing this. Essentially, you want to cover your pan with a similarly sized plate or platter, hold the two together, and turn the entire thing over to release the potatoes onto the plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan before sliding the potatoes back in, uncooked side down. Hooray! You did it!
Continue cooking until the underside of your potato cake matches the golden brown of the top. Slide the finished cake onto a cutting board, cut into triangles, and eat.
Rösti cries out for a variety of delicious garnishes. (Or is "garnish" already a mass noun? Hmm.) Anything you put on a traditional potato pancake will be great here. Applesauce? Yes. Sour cream or creme fraiche--maybe with some chopped dill or more scallion greens? Yes. Chopped hard-boiled egg and crunchy salt? Yes. Capers and finely chopped red onion? Yep. Smoked salmon or caviar? Sure, if you like that kind of thing. All of the above at once? Well, maybe not applesauce, but everything else--yes.
Hooray for brunch! What do you guys like to cook on lazy weekend mornings?