Dinner in 45 Minutes

Kung Pao Tofu With Broccoli and Peanuts

4 servings

There's a fair amount of "set aside" in this preparation, as with most stir-fries, but once you start cooking, it goes very quickly. The crisp broccoli and water chestnuts pair well with the soft tofu and slightly spicy sauce. Serve with rice. Recipe adapted from "A Spoonful of Ginger," by Nina Simonds (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).

1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch slabs

2 tablespoons minced scallions, white part only, plus 2/3 cup scallion greens, cut into 1-inch lengths

11/2 tablespoons minced garlic

11/2 tablespoons minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste

1 cup sliced water chestnuts

2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

21/2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

3/4 pound broccoli, ends trimmed and stalks peeled

4 tablespoons canola or corn oil

3/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts

Wrap the tofu slabs in paper towels or a cotton towel, and place a heavy weight, such as a cast-iron skillet or a pot filled with cold water, on top. Let stand to press out excess water while preparing the seasonings and sauce.

In a small bowl, mix the minced scallions, garlic, ginger and chili paste. In another bowl, place the scallion greens and water chestnuts. Set both aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine or dry sherry, sugar, toasted sesame oil, black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut off the broccoli florets and separate into bite-size pieces. Cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Boil the broccoli for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander under cold running water and place in medium bowl. Set aside.

Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/2-inch thick and 21/2 inches long. Using a large, heavy skillet on high heat, heat 11/2 tablespoons of the oil. Place half of the tofu in the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove with a spatula and drain. Add another 11/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and repeat.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the scallion-ginger mixture and stir-fry about 15 seconds. Add scallion greens and water chestnuts and cook, stirring, about 11/2 minutes. Add the chicken broth mixture and stir until it thickens, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli, tofu and peanuts. Toss lightly. Serve hot.

Per serving: 391 calories, 20 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 199 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

-- Marcia Kramer

SHOPPING CART | Things That Measure Up

Instead of the classic measuring cup:

* The mini version of Oxo's popular angled measuring cup lets you measure 1/2 to four tablespoons (or 1/4 to two ounces), $3.99.

* Cups, grams, milliliters, teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces -- this glass (rear) measures it all. It even has the correct measure for when a recipe calls for a "double jigger" (two ounces) or a teacup (four ounces), $5.99.

* It looks like a shot glass, but it's really a mini measure for an exact pour of up to five teaspoons, two tablespoons, one ounce or 30 ml, $2.99; all available at Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

* A see-through slot and clear marks make this a better way to measure butter than relying on what's printed on the wrapper; 63/4 inches, stainless steel with directions on the back, $9.95; order online at www.kitchenkrafts.com.

A measure of advice:

* "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book," Limited Edition (Meredith Books) has a table of food/fresh produce equivalents in the front, a list of emergency substitutions in the back, and more than 1,200 recipes sandwiched in its ring-bindered, tab-indexed pages; a special 64-page section features "Pink Plaid" foods, recipes and lifestyle recommendations associated with good health; about $29.95 at major bookstores and online through amazon.com and www.bhgbooks.com.

A measure of salt with the sweet:

* The newest luxury caramel winner (voted 2005 Outstanding Confection by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade) from Fran's Chocolates of Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., features smoked salt from Wales atop butter caramels covered in milk chocolate, 13-piece box, $9.99, available at some Balducci's stores or online, 16-piece box, $20, at www.franschocolates.com.


WEDNESDAY: Words & Wine -- Reception with "Hear Him Roar" author Andrew Wingfield. Featuring food and wine pairings from California's Sierra Foothills, where the novel is set. $20 includes a signed copy of the book. 7:45 p.m. Tallula Restaurant, 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington. Call 703-778-5051.

WEDNESDAY: American Artisan Cheese Feast -- dinner with wine pairings featuring artisanal cheeses from small farm dairies. $85 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. Tuscarora Mill, 203 Harrison St. SE, Leesburg. Call 703-771-9300.

FRIDAY: 1920s Murder Mystery -- Dinner theatre at the Bailiwick Inn featuring Lord Foppington and Company actors. $365 per couple includes tax and tip. 6-midnight. 4023 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax. Call 703-691-2266 or see www.bailiwickinn.com.

FRIDAY: Ferrari-Carano wine dinner at Morton's steakhouse. $125 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 1750 Crystal Dr., Arlington. Call 703-418-2311.

FRIDAY: Champagne tasting to benefit Whitman-Walker Clinic. Free; $10 donation to sample a few premiere champagnes. 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Wine Specialist, 2115 M St. NW. Call 202-833-0707 or see www.winespecialist.com.

FRIDAY: Harvest moon dinner at Equinox Restaurant featuring a debut screening of the PBS television series "Chefs A'Field." $100 excludes tax and tip. 7 p.m. screening, 8 p.m. dinner. 818 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-331-8118.

SATURDAY: Johnny Appleseed festival at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market. Free admission. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Lamont Park (17th, Lamont and Mount Pleasant streets NW). Call 202-234-0559.

SATURDAY: Taste of Bethesda -- festival featuring samplings from 50 local restaurants. Free admission; tastings 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fairmont, Norfolk, St. Elmo, Del Ray and Cordell avenues, Bethesda. Call 301-215-6660 or see www.bethesda.org.

SATURDAY: Book signing and food tasting with "Kinkead's Cookbook" author Bob Kinkead. Free. 1-3 p.m. Sur La Table store at Tysons Galleria shopping center, McLean. Call 703-749-1125.

SATURDAY: Wine tasting to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Sponsored by the Washington Wine Academy. $100. 7-11 p.m. Wyndham Hotel, 1400 M St. NW. Call 703-971-1525.

SUNDAY: Mushroom Fair featuring cooking demonstrations, lectures, displays and tours. Sponsored by the Mycological Association of Washington. Free. Noon-5 p.m. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallen Ave., Wheaton. Call 301-907-3053.

SUNDAY: Book signing and food tasting with "Chocolate Chocolate" author Lisa Yockelson at La Cuisine. Free. 1-5 p.m. 323 Cameron St., Alexandria. Call 800-521-1176.


OCT. 5: 1985 big bottle wine dinner at Palette restaurant. Sponsored by the Taster's Guild. $275 includes tax and tip. 7:15 p.m. Madison Hotel, 1177 15th St. NW. Call 202-223-1700.

OCT. 8: Harvest wine dinner and tour at Pearmund Cellars. Sponsored by the American Institute of Wine and Food. $125 includes tax and tip. 5:30 p.m. 6190 Georgetown Rd., Broad Run. Call 202-333-0421.

-- Terri Sapienza

PLEASE NOTE: Send notices to: To Do, Food, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or food@washpost.com. Submissions must be received at least 14 days before publication date.