Sunday, May 27, 2007

tempeh (or tofu) with spicy peanut sauce

Last night, I was checking out the links that Shannon put on the sidebar -- and adding my own -- and I clicked on one I'd never seen before: The Savory Notebook. Her peanut butter category was my first stop, and I wound up making this for dinner last night with tofu instead of tempeh.

I was initially skeptical about making the two separate sauces, but it turned out to be a great idea -- when I usually make peanut sauce, I never like how heavy and gloppy it is on the vegetables and protein. The stuff that's stirred into the noodles is always perfect, but alone it's weird. This solved the problem perfectly -- after I cooked the tofu the way I always do, I added some of the light sauce with scallions and some random greens, then sauteed a huge bunch of green beans with another portion of the sauce, with the lid on. Which I guess is steaming. Whatever.

Anyway -- it was good, and there are no leftovers today because my roommates liked it so much that they ate it all. Here is the recipe the way it showed up originally on the blog... someday I will try it with tempeh the way she has it.

For the Tempeh:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons mirin (rice wine)
1 teaspoon grated ginger (I used powdered)
1 garlic clove, minced
8 ounces tempeh, cut into cubes

Peanut Sauce:

1/4-1/2 cup water (I didn't need any water when making the sauce)
1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (powdered)
1-2 teaspoons chile paste with garlic (didn't have this; I put in a ton of red pepper flakes and chili powder instead)
2 garlic cloves, minced

*Note - you can add any sauteed vegetable you like. Red bell pepper or snow peas would go nicely. I used zucchini - not something I would normally pick, but it's what we had on hand at the time. (The green beans I had were perfect, although they sort of sat on top with the tofu instead of being mixed in. The scallions and farmshare greens mixed in better.)

To prepare tempeh, in a bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, ginger, and garlic.

Arrange the tempeh in a single layer in a wide sauté pan. Pour the marinade over the tempeh and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat, and cook until nearly dry. (My pan kept going dry before 20 minutes was up, so I kept adding water - tempeh needs to cook to get rid of the bitterness.) At this point, the tempeh may be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to a week.

For the sauce, mix all of the ingredients, except water, in a small saucepan, whisk to combine, and warm over low heat. Add water to achieve desired consistency. Heat to a simmer, then pour sauce over tempeh and heat through.

Serve over your favorite rice. I used brown basmati, but white basmati or jasmine would work well too. (I used vermicelli rice noodles, my favorite choice to soak up sauce.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Year in Bread, Part 2: Farmhouse White

And we're back! I (and I think Hefk, too) skipped last month... somehow I couldn't seem to find the right number of back-to-back hours for the no-knead bread. The schedule doesn't work quite right for me and, frankly, the kneading is one of the things I'm most in love with about the whole aesthetic of bread-baking. Which, after today's farmhouse white experience, I am officially totally in love with. I want to put a ring on its finger and whisk it away to the honeymoon suite.

I again tried Susan's version; like the people she talks about in the entry, I am someone who pretty much never eats white bread, but this just looked too good.

And the whole experience was great! I don't really have any comments except that it was a really nice way to spend a pre-holiday-weekend Friday afternoon, the process was fun, the bread looks delicious and smells unbelievable and I'm having trouble waiting the recommended 40 minutes after pulling it out of the oven to start eating it.

Some photos:

This was the poking step after the first rise. It seemed ready after 60 minutes -- pretty much everything I did was on the lower end of the times she described.

Proofing! I am in on the secret bread-baking lingo now. It's the last rise, when the dough is actually in the pans it will bake in. I was a little worried that I didn't have the right size pans, because the dough rose a lot in this step and was already well above the tops of the pans, but...

... not really a problem! It didn't rise quite as beautifully as Susan's seems to in the photos, but it definitely rose more, seems solid but not like a total brick, sounded hollow when tapped and fell right out of the pan when turned upside down. I did put some flour on the bottoms and sides of the pans, too, because things seemed a little sticky after the proofing, but not sure if it would have come out with just the extra canola oil I used to grease the pan.

The 40 minutes are almost over now. Mm, bread.

UPDATE: MM, BREAD! This is good, my friends.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chickpea curry

I read this food blogger who says if you've got the blues, get yourself into the kitchen and start cooking. And eat a mango while you're at it. I've had a serious case of the blahs for a little over a week now, and I haven't been cooking nearly as much as I used to. I'm not saying the two of them are related, but I'm making a conscious effort to get back into the kitchen and make some good food. Tonight we started off on the right foot with marinated beef tenderloin, which Ernie grilled, skillet-fried potatoes and onions and roasted asparagus.
I've had my eye on some chickpea curry recipes for a while now, and none of them seemed quite right to me. So I took what I liked the best from each of them, and created my own. This should be a tasty lunch tomorrow, over some leftover rice.

1 can chickpeas (or two)
1/2 c. -1 c. chana dal (dried split peas)
1 can tomatoes (no salt added)
1 onion, diced
curry paste

I cooked the chana dal in water for about 30 minutes or so, until it was all softened. Then I drained and rinsed it off.
In the same pot, I sweated the onion in a little olive oil, and a few shakes of granulated garlic. Then I added the tomatoes, chickpeas (with the water in the can) and some curry paste (to taste).
I let it all simmer about 15 minutes, tasted and adjusted curry seasoning.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tomato, basil and mozzarella pasta salad

From the Washington Post, made for Hefk's sprinkler this weekend...

Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings.

8 ounces rotini (corkscrew) or any similarly shaped pasta (I used this weird twisty stuff called Trottore from Trader Joe's)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice
3/4 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded ad cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice*
10 to 12 medium or large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, white and tender green parts, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is done, but still a little firm to the bite. Drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is completely cool. Let it drain for a few minutes and transfer to a large bowl. Add the mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, scallions, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste, adding more vinegar if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To peel plum tomatoes:

*Note: To peel plum tomatoes, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Remove the stem from the tomato and cut an "X" in its bottom. Place in the boiling water for 10 or 15 seconds -- no longer. Use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer to the ice water. The skin should simply slip off.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Snappy salmon fillets

There hasn't been a lot of experimentation with new recipes in our house lately. Most of the time I'm so tired by the time I get home from work we're lucky if I throw something together that makes sense.
I've been doing some menu planning lately, though, so maybe the return of new and exciting recipes is at hand.

In any case, Ernie made this salmon a few weeks ago, and it was very tasty. I keep meaning to post the recipe, and forgetting. Super easy to make, and very quick -- both bonuses in our books.

Snappy Salmon Fillets (found on the back of the Kikkoman's bottle)
1/2 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. grated fresh lemon peel
1/4 c. lemon juice
4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
lemon wedges

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon peel and juice; pour over salmon in large plastic bag. Press air out of bag, close top securely. Turn bage over several times to coat all pieces well. Marinate 30-40 minutes, turning over once. Broil (or grill) salmon 3-4 minutes each side, or until fish flakes when tested with fork. Serve with lemon wedges.