We’re a little family over here at the Little Foxes, and what we may have failed to mention in our inaugural post, is that we’re a lil’ fam of three: Ash, Banjo, and Andy. What we may have also failed to mention is that we three share a 600 sq. foot apartment in downtown Chicago with a kitchen so microscopic, it’s literally a one-at-a-time affair. Andy is Ash’s beau, and up until January, he was a meat-eatin’, pork pulling’, bone-in lovin’ grill master with a penchant for making dry rubs so good you’d smack yo’ mama. Raised in the balmy land of Florida, Andy grew up eating and cooking damn good soul food and mastering anything over hot coals or a smoker (yes, he had a smoker). Well, love is a many splendored thing (is that how it goes…?), and knowing his girl’s animal lovin’ ways (and being exposed to some serious animal rights info), Andy has channeled his BBQ Pitmaster gifts in to magically transforming tofu, tempeh, seitan, and, of course, farmer’s market veggies. And he’s damn good at it, too. The Foxes are lucky that Andy knows his way around a kitchen and can do some pretty crafty things with tasty, fresh vegan ingredients.
Tonight, after I returned home from scoping the newest edition of VegNews in the park, Chef Andy made a stick-to-your-ribs feast, proving that a hearty meal, doesn’t have to be a meaty meal. He prepared three kinds of grilled tofu: a Teriyaki, a homemade dry rub, and a spicy BBQ. Then he whipped up (literally and figuratively, people) mash from the naturally-buttery tasting fingerling potatoes, fresh green onion, and a zippy kick of garlic, tahini, smoked paprika, and other special spices. Lastly, I made my famous (well, if famous means I make it all the damn time) garlicky kale with roasted walnuts to sub in for southern collards (which we did not have). The tofu was fantastic – nice smoky flavor from the grill, just the right crunch from the dry rub, and a little kick from the homemade sauces (so good). The mashed potatoes were succulent – totally just what your forkful of tofu was begging for as it made its way to our mouths. I tell ya, tahini and garlic is an inspired combo and really adds richness to everything it touches, and fresh green onions (spring onions to you Brits) add just the right amount of crunch and freshness to balance that richness. And the kale…well, I am a big time devotee of the Cult of Kale. If kale told me to drink the Kool Aid, I’d drink the damn Kool Aid (can I get an “Amen!”?). It really can do no wrong in my eyes, and when paired with pan roasted walnuts…well, everything just seems right in the world. Top it all off with a generous grind of Trader Joe’s “South African Smoke Seasoning” (if you have not come across this, you need to get it. If you don’t have a TJ’s near you, (1) weep, and (2) ask a friend to send to you after you dry your tears), which is a delightful blend of whole smoked paprika flakes, luscious sea salts, and other amazingness. It adds a miraculous and unique smoky/sweet/savoriness to everything it touches (put it on top of hummus and you’ll have peeps asking “what is that marvelous herb you put on there? I just can’t pinpoint it.” True story.). Unfortunately, we had only Trader Joe’s “Simpler Times” beer in the fridge (a leftover “back-up” party purchase), and we all (especially Andy and Banjo) recommend a better beer, worthy of a meal this damn tasty. Rub recipes (ooh la la) to follow in a little while (we gotta persuade the master to reveal some of his secrets).
While we said we would pack the rest up for eagerly-awaited lunches tomorrow, that was a pipe dream, because we ate most of it. Now only one lonesome piece of tofu and a tiny dollop of mash remain in a tupperware (BPA free, yo). I will also reconsider using the napkins with bespectacled feet on them for future pics. Feet and food usually don’t mix (eh well). Mild food blogging faux pas! These kinds of meals are regular occurrences at the Foxes’, so keep your eyes peeled for more lip smackin’, Southern-inspired, soulful meals, recipes, and culinary secrets from Andy and Ashlee- all Fox-tested and Fox-approved.