Santa brought me a new toy for Christmas, a hand-held smoking gun. I’ve been playing a lot in the kitchen…
My new toy in the kitchen has been put to good use, and it’s been fun practicing. I think you can smoke just about anything, in fact, there are few things I’ve eyed recently that I didn’t ask “Hmm, how would this taste smoked…” Some more successfully than others.
My weapon is a Breville Handy Smoker, which is billed as “a professional culinary smoke infuser.” Infuser is the correct term, since to actually smoke a food, it takes hours and hours. This contraption does not cook and smoke, it just lends a smoky flavor to the already cooked food. It does so quickly, and with great flourish and fun!
I started with salt. It was a simple procedure. Put a dish of salt underneath the dome that is attached by a hose to the smoker. Add a few chips (I used hickory for this) to the well on the top of the smoker, turn on the fan to high, light the chips, turn the fan down, and in seconds the dome fills up with smoke! Shut the smoker off and let the smoke infuse the food. This only takes a few minutes.
It make a lot of smoke. Quickly.
I learned that the kitchen door should be open, vent fan engaged, and one should not leave the smoker on too long; we don’t want to set off the smoke detectors after all!
The salt tasted great!
My second project was smoking butter, both dairy and vegan, since I have in my memory some delicious smoked butter that I purchased at the farmers market last year. I started with the dairy, and it was beyond wonderful! I used applewood chips, but I will experiment with other chips to see how the flavor and intensity varies.
I have never liked the flavor of the vegan butter straight up, but once smoked I was absolutely delighted at how lovely it tasted! I tried it on a cracker and thought this might make a good little snack all by itself! This was perhaps the biggest transformation.
My failure was mustard. I think I needed a stronger-flavored chip because I could not really detect the smoke at all, the mustard was just too strong.
One of my successes was baked tofu. I made my lemon and lavender tofu and, once cooked, I simply smoked it for about 10 minutes. Now, it is one of my new favorites!
If you don’t want this dish smoked, just eliminate this step, it’s still tasty!
A little moderation will win out
I know I will calm down and stop smoking everything soon, because I realize it is simply not good for the health to consume a lot of smoked foods, even if they are not charred on the barbecue. So once the novelty wears off, when the smoke clears, so to speak, I’ll keep my vent fans on, use this in moderation now and then, and enjoy that little extra hint of flavor in a variety of dishes.
For this recipe I used a local tofu that was not rated according to firmness, but it seemed pretty firm to me. The ingredients were all organic, which is especially important for the tofu and the lemon.
Smoked Lemon & Lavender Tofu
1 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu
Zest and juice of two lemons
2 tsp. lavender flowers, crushed
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tbsp. honey, lavender if you have it, or maple syrup for vegan option
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
1/4 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 scallion, sliced
First, press the tofu. Place a double thickness of toweling on a flat plate and add the tofu. Cover with more toweling, and place a second plate on top. Weigh down with a heavy can. Let this press for a half hour to remove any excess moisture.
Once the tofu is ready, cut it into cubes of desired size, and place in a bowl.
Whisk together lemon juice and zest, lavender flowers, turmeric, paprika, honey, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tbsp. to dress at the end, and pour the rest over the tofu, gently tossing so as not to break up the cubes.
Marinate this for 1/2 hour, and preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, distribute the tofu in a single layer, and drizzle just a bit more oil the top. You can also spray the oil if you have the little canister.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once. It will have lovely, crispy brown edges.
Smoke or serve!
Serve: Place the tofu in a large bowl and add the parsley. Dress with the reserved marinade, toss, top with scallions, and serve.
If you are smoking this:
Put the tofu on a flat plate, positioning the dome over the top. After getting the smoking gun going the dome will quickly fill, just seconds. Shut off the gun and let the tofu set undisturbed until the smoke is all cleared, about 10 minutes. Then, add the parsley and reserved marinade and toss.
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