Sunday, September 30, 2007

Holy Tofu Mole

[This sounds so good and I can’t resist the name, but I messed it up by being impatient and not waiting until I had raw pepitas. I just used a snack package of pumpkin seeds that were still in their hulls. Very bad idea. The flavors were good, but the seed bits made it indigestible. We had to throw out the whole lot. Made me so sad. I’ll try making it again and let you know how it goes with the correct ingredients…]

1 head of garlic
½tsp olive oil
3 fresh poblano chilies or pasilla chilies
6-8 tomatillos
½C raw, shelled pumpkin seeds [pepitas]
½C fresh cilantro, chopped
½C chicken or vegetable stock OR- water
1.5lb extra firm, low-fat tofu
tamari to taste
2-3C cooked brown rice

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Remove loose, papery skin from garlic and cut in half crosswise.
Rub cut surfaces with olive oil.
Wrap garlic in foil and bake 35 to 40 minutes until garlic is soft. [I just set a few cloves in their skins on a non-greased hot pan for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes]
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins.
Remove stems and seeds from chilies and paper skins from tomatillos.
Roast chilies & tomatillos under broiler, turning frequently, until skin is evenly blistered and slightly charred.
Place chilies & tomatillos in a paper bag and let cool. Remove skins from chilies and rinse. [I like the charry skins, so I skipped this step & just slid the whole pan of veggies and their juices into the food processor.]
Toast pumpkin seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until seeds have puffed, about 3 minutes.
Do not brown. Transfer seeds to a small bowl, then set aside to cool.
Grind pumpkin seeds to a fine meal in a food processor or blender.
Add roasted garlic, chilies, tomatillos, peppers and cilantro and continue pureeing until smooth.
Heat sauce in a medium skillet and add stock.
Simmer 10 minutes. Slice tofu 1/2-inch thick.
Brush/marinate tofu with tarmari and grill over hot coals or broil in oven, 5 minutes per side.
Serve tofu on a bed of rice topped with mole sauce.

Modified from: http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Holy%20tofu%20mole!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ben's banana bread

This is a friend's family recipe -- people go crazy whenever he brings it anywhere. It's slightly less banana-y and more dense and dessert-ish than the (extremely delicious in its own right) Banana Bread of Sincere Repentance.

(0) Preheat oven to 350.

(1) In a bowl, combine and then let rise:
.5 C yogurt
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
.5 teaspoons baking soda

(2) In a second bowl, combine:
1.5 ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
1 C sugar
.5 C oil
2 eggs

(3) Combine the contents of both bowls and add:
2 C flour, gently stirred in just until all of it is moist
1 C chocolate chips

(4) Pour into a greased loaf pan and (optional) spinkle walnuts on top.

(5) Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 70 minutes, until firm throughout.

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil

from Cooking Light, September 2007, page 198

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4-1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped leek
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
5 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced

1. Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 4 minutes). Set aside

2. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oil.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lunchbox suggestions?

Alright, so now that we've delved into the land of "big kid school," we've also delved into the land of "big kid" lunches.
So far I've been able to rock Gaby's world with ham or turkey sandwiches, and homemade Lunchables -- turkey, cheese, crackers and carrots.
But that's going to get old quick, I think. I had hoped to pack her hummus, but she's decided she won't touch the stuff. And she's the only kid in the world who doesn't like peanut butter.
Anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

jamaican curry

There is not really a recipe in this post, but I just wanted to share a food moment with folks I know would appreciate it. I am a big fan of ethnic food. I am a big fan of authenticity. This experience involves both in yummy doses.
My very very Jamaican neighbor, Grandma Gertrude, the wife of a man I know only as DaDa, is also the mother of 9 grown children, and grandmother of countless "cousins" who almost all live in our neighborhood. She and I got talking the other night about (what else?) food and cooking; we began discussing the differences between Indian and Jamaican curries. Her family brings curry and jerk seasonings back to the States from Jamaica when they or other family members go. She seemed shocked that I hadn't ever tried Jamaican curry and her descriptions made me eager to try it. Two nights later, she appeared on my doorstep with a small brown paper sack containing a slice of wedding cake from her niece's wedding and a bag of curry powder to do with as I pleased. And I did. And I loved it.
The cake, by the way, tastes very good. The curry, it is amazing. I just cooked some thin slices of chicken and red onion in olive oil and added about a tablespoon of curry. It turned everything golden yellow and smelled very turmericky. I put half of the chicken pieces on a Boboli pizza crust, and I've been eating the other half piece by piece because it's there and it's delicious.
It was so nice of Gertrude to share with me. I knew you guys would feel the love.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Torta di cipolle (onion pie)

I know it sounds really unusual but this is really good stuff. This recipe is from The Culinary Institute of Florence where my in-laws took cooking lessons a few summers ago.

Shell:
1 1/2 C flour
4 T olive oil
pinch salt
cold water

Filling:
2 lbs. white onions, finely sliced (it's super easy if you have a mandolin)
1 1/4 C fresh pecorino cheese, finely grated
2 eggs
parsley (the recipe doesn't specify the amount but it's probably a tablespoon or so)
salt & pepper to taste

Shell: Mix together the flour and salt. Add the olive oil and sprinkle cold water over the flour mixture 1 T at a time. Be careful not to handle the dough any more than is necessary. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 30 min.

Filling: Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and add the onions , salt & pepper. Cook on low heat stirring gently every 5 minutes. Let the onions cook in a covered pan for about an hour. Beat the eggs and add cheese, salt & pepper and parsley. Add the onions to the egg mixture.

Roll out the dough 2 inches larger than the pie pan then place in the pan. Crimp the edges of the shell for about 15-20 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Fill shell with onion/egg mixture and bake for 45 min. Cool slightly and serve.

white beans and roasted tomatoes

This doesn't really look like much of a recipe, but it was surprisingly delicious.

We had about 10 not-great Roma tomatoes from our (disappointing due to drought) farm share, so I figured I'd continue my vegetable-roasting streak. I took it mostly from a this Smitten Kitchen recipe, which is definitely worth a look. I want to try her garlic-rubbed bread cubes next time; this time, I made risotto.

2 large onions, chopped into large pieces
10 Roma tomatoes, chopped cross-wise two or three times
sea salt
balsamic vinegar
A few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
slivered fresh basil leaves

Heat oven to 500 degrees F.

Line 9x13 brownie pan with aluminum foil. Throw in onions and tomatoes, drizzle olive oil and several splashes of balsamic, and mix thoroughly; vegetables should be evenly, lightly coated. Add a few shakes of sea salt and toss again.

Roast for 20-40 minutes, until the tomatoes show brown patches and the onions are translucent.

Assemble the dish by placing the white beans at the bottom of a large bowl or large deep platter, scraping the tomatoes and all* of their juices on top, and topping it with slivers of basil leaves.

Spoon over risotto (which I made following the directions on the arborio rice package -- you need white wine, broth, onions and parmesan cheese). Eat.

My recipe stops there, but here are Smitten Kitchen's notes:

Serve immediately. I like to throw a few garlic-rubbed bread cubes** in the bottom of a plate or small bowl and scoop the goods on top.

* These juices are where it's at. We sop them up on at the end with the leftover or bread cubes. (I didn't really have any juices, probably because of the subpar tomatoes, but the balsamic sort of crystalizes on the bottom and that tasted great scraped off the foil.)

** Lately, I’ve been using 4 1″-thick slices of a large ciabatta loaf and partially drying them out in the oven, but use whatever bread you fancy or have around. (If I’m in more of a hurry, I’ll toast them in the oven with the tomatoes, for just a minute or two.) When I take them out, I immediately rub both sides with a peeled, halved raw garlic clove. Then I cut them into cubes. You don’t want them as hard as store-bought croutons, but a nice crunch is ideal for soaking.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chewy Cherry Scones

From: Chukar Cherry Recipe Collection

These are Todd's favorite scones, and the only thing I think he's ever baked from scratch. We made a double batch this morning, half with cherries, half with currants.

1/2 cup dried cherries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1 egg
1/2 c plain yogurt

Soak cherries in apple juice or water at least 10 minutes. Drain well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor or bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, nutmeg and salt. Add butter and process or cut in with pastry blender until mixture has fine crumbs. Add egg and yogurt. Stir in cherries. Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled 12 x 15-inch baking sheet. Lightly flour hands and pat into a 9-inch round. With a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Serve warm. Yields 8 scones.