BBQ Tofu

If you’ve spent much time in Grand Rapids, you know about – and probably frequented – Gaia Cafe. It closed in 2014. But, I still have their BBQ tofu recipe! It was the best. The recipe was published in Grand Rapids Magazine in 2012, and I recently came across it in a folder. It has a few steps, so you have to get started a day or so ahead of when you will serve it.

First, freeze up a package or two of water packed extra firm tofu at least over night. Thaw it, slice into 3/4 inch slices, and squeeze the water out of the tofu until it’s fairly dry.

marinaded BBQ TofuMake a batter of a mixture of natural peanut butter combined with a bit of coconut milk (I used the full fat coconut milk in the can) and a generous pour of naturally fermented soy sauce – so it has the consistency of thin pancake batter. Adjust the flavors to your taste.

Dip each tofu slice into the batter, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and bake in 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until slightly dry.

Remove from oven and cool.

finished BBQ tofuLine the bottom of a small cake pan with your favorite barbecue sauce and layer in the tofu slices, adding barbecue sauce to cover each layer.

Bake 35 more minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and let cool. When ready to serve, cook in a frying pan to heat through.

The instructions are as casual as the restaurant. But, it’s very easy to make and tastes delicious. I served it with MI asparagus, cornbread made from MI corn from Hampshire Organic Farms, and a side of my own home canned MI applesauce.

Now, if only I could get my hands on the recipe of the famous Gaia cookie!

BBQ tofu with corn bread

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Shaved Raw Asparagus with Parmesan Dressing

Michigan local asparagusAs I continue eating my way through asparagus season, I wanted to share a raw asparagus recipe with my readers. I eat raw food quite often, since it tends to sit well with me. (Raw food has not been heated above 115 degrees.) Visit my Seasonally Raw page for more information about raw food.


1 pound large asparagus
1/2 cup raw ‘parmesan’ style mix (see recipe below)
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons water
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long, thin strips and transfer to a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, mix the parmesan mix with the lemon juice, water and olive oil. Add to the asparagus and toss to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Raw Parm Sprinkle
Mix together:
¼ cup sesame seeds – ground in a coffee grinder to a small texture
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup onion powder
1/16 cup garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

The salad recipe originated in Food & Wine magazine (using Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese), and I tweaked a recipe from Bartertown Diner for the raw parmesan mix.

Learn to eat Michigan Local Food –  more info on my website

Asparagus Portobello Oscar Recipe

Asparagus is one of the earliest Michigan crops. The season lasts about eight weeks in Michigan. I have found that I prefer asparagus fresh rather than preserved. Therefore, I eat it during those eight weeks until I can no longer eat another stalk.

Did you know that Michigan, home to 125 asparagus farms, ranks third in the nation for asparagus production? Our farmers produce up to 25 million pounds of asparagus seasonally on approximately 11,000 acres of farmland. This is worth an estimated 15 million dollars annually. Asparagus is low in calories and has 3 grams of fiber per 5.3 ounce serving.

The freshest asparagus will be found at a local farmers market. Look for spears with tight, smooth tips. The whole stalk should be smooth and taut. Don’t purchase wilted asparagus. It will not keep well, and it will not be tender when cooked. Always wash it a sink of cold water, swishing it around being especially careful to remove sand and grit from the ends. It is best stored in the refrigerator in a tall container with the cut ends sitting in water. It stays fresh for over a week this way.

Asparagus Portobello Oscar, featured below, is one of my all-time favorite recipes. The first step is to make a Béarnaise sauce. It is the finishing touch to a layer of tarragon mashed potatoes, portobello mushroom caps, and asparagus spears.

Béarnaise Sauce (1 cup)

2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 cup hot butter (just off boil)

Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, and tarragon in a blender. Process until combined. Then, on low speed add ¼ cup of melted butter. On high speed add ½ cup of melted butter.

(I found a vegan Béarnaise sauce here, but haven’t tried it yet.)

Asparagus Portobello Oscar
1. Make the béarnaise sauce.
2. Make mashed potatoes ( 2-3 medium potatoes for two servings) and add ½ teaspoon tarragon, or to taste
3. Sauté asparagus spears (6-8 for two servings) in olive oil until tender.
4. Sauté portobello cap slices (8 slices for two servings) until browned and cooked through.

Assemble as follows.
5. Place mashed potatoes on plates with mushrooms on top.
6. Layer the asparagus spears onto the mushrooms.
7. Top with béarnaise sauce.


asparagus portabella oscar

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