Saturday, August 29, 2009

Freezing cherry tomatoes

Did you know you can freeze cherry tomatoes? I just learned this helpful little fact. Just wash them, let them dry completely, pop them into zip-top bags or other containers and freeze. When you pull them out of the freezer (perhaps in the middle of winter when you can't get a decent-tasting tomato anywhere) they will break down fairly quickly, so they are good for making sauce or throwing into stews or casseroles. You won't be able to thaw them and then slice them or use them in any preparations where you want them to maintain their shape. One suggestion is to just slice the frozen tomatoes in half and toss into a pan to cook down into a sauce with some herbs, maybe a splash of balsamic, a little olive oil, etc. Great for topping pasta, chicken or fish.

Coconut flan

Oh man. Know the best part of this dessert? Other than the flan goodness?
The fact that the recipe is easy enough that you can make it before dinner, and be eating flan after you've consumed salsa and chips, tacos and margaritas.
And that Ernie can make it for me, while I'm throwing the salsa together.

from Food Network

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup evaporated milk
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together coconut flakes and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon on a sheet tray and toast coconut until edges are golden, stirring occasionally.
In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of the sugar until it becomes a golden brown caramel. Working quickly and with purpose, before the caramel hardens, pour the syrup into a glass pie plate, tilting the plate to completely cover the bottom.
In another small saucepan, bring the coconut milk and evaporated milk to a simmer. In a large bowl combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Pour a little of the milk mixture into the bowl and whisk well to temper the eggs.
Whisk in a little more milk, then pour the entire egg mixture into the pot. Strain custard then pour into pie pan. Place pie pan inside a roasting pan. Fill pan with hot water to about an inch up the side of the pie pan. Bake until the center sets, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove custard from oven and let cool 1/2 hour in the water bath. To serve, invert custard onto a serving plate. Top with toasted coconut and slice into wedges.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stuffed Poblanos (or bell peppers)

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced (I used green chilies because I was out of jalapeno)
2 small onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (19 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large poblano chiles (or 3 med-large bell peppers), halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 425. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, jalapeno, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, remaining onions, minced garlic, cumin, and 3/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper.

Dividing evenly, stuff poblano halves with bean mixture; place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining 1/2 cup cheese; cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened slightly and cheese is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes. I served this at room temp with mock spanish rice and sliced avocado. This makes awesome leftovers.

*you could also use a can of diced tomatoes mixed with jalapenos if you don't have a jalapeno sitting around.

Marinated zucchini

Last Friday Gaby spent the night at my grandmother's house, which meant I had the opportunity to make "grown-up" food...things I know she doesn't want to eat.
I consulted Mario Batali's "Molto Italiano," which is where this recipe comes from.
I have to say, it's a bit of work, but so, so worth it. It was good the night I made it, even better two days later.
Also, I need to wax poetic about my yellow squash and basil, both of which went into this recipe. Love, love having a garden.

1/4 c. olive oil (I used more than this, probably closer to 1/2 c. by the time I was finished)
3 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
3 medium yellow squash, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 c. fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. black pepper
1/4-1/2 c. red wine vinegar (I used closer to 1/2 c.)

Heat olive oil in sauté pan until just smoking. Working in batches, cook zucchini slices until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, red pepper, basil, salt and black pepper. Line the bottom of a deep pie dish (or a small baking pan, which is what I used) with 1/4 of the zucchini. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the herb mixture and drizzle some vinegar. Repeat.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Pan-Roasted Corn & Tomato Salad

Geoff found this one on the New York Times' website. We made it last night for dinner, but it would make an excellent side dish as well. The color is really lovely.

Time: 30 minutes

1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped (we used about 1/3 of a large red onion)
4 to 6 ears corn, stripped of their kernels (2 to 3 cups) (we used 5 ears)
Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
2 fresh small chilies, like Thai, seeded and minced (we used 2/3 of a Poblano pepper)
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, more or less.

1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to render fat; add onion and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes, then add corn. Continue cooking, stirring or shaking pan occasionally, until corn begins to brown a bit, about 5 more minutes; remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Drain fat if you wish. (Note: it took about 10 minutes for our corn to start turning brown)

2. Put lime juice in a large bowl and add bacon-corn mixture; then toss with remaining ingredients. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mark Bittman's 101 list for 2009

This year is salads! This is a nice resource to have ideas all in one place for flavor combos. While there are summer veggies left to be had, let's try a few and report back.

#31 is calling Alissa's name; #44 is calling mine.

cherry tomato couscous

Score another point for Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. This was delicious and only requires the barest amount of cooking heat on a summer night.

3 cups cooked couscous, according to package directions
1/2 a basket of cherry tomatoes, halved (I used regular tomatoes, chopped)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup cooked chickpeas
(we also added a bunch of chopped scallions and a block of tofu, cut into very small cubes, marinated for a few minutes with lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper, and then fried)

1 lemon, cut in half
1 lime, cut in half
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup basil or cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (do not use fat-free feta cheese. big mistake. sigh.)

Combine the couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Lori - squeezes the lemon and lime juice directly into the bowl, so start by giving a good squeeze of lemon and lime juice into the bowl, add the olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Toss well, taste, and adjust with more of the above until it tastes just right. Lori notes - this really needs a generous amount of salt, and the lemon and lime juices might need to be adjusted depending on how juicy the fruit is. (Gwen notes: I used the juice of another whole lime.)

Add the basil and feta and toss gently until it is evenly dispersed.

Cherry-Oat Bars

Adapted from FatFreeVeganKitchen. Yes, another vegan recipe, but don't write it off just yet. I don't know about you, but I'm trying to watch what I eat and at the same time, I'm not willing to totally forego baked goods. These are a good compromise. Also, using your food processor to make these is a must but that also means pretty quick clean up since you can just throw it all in the dishwasher after you're done. I hope you all have dishwashers.

Anyway, Susan used blueberries in her posting of the recipe but as much as I love blueberries, I was looking for something different. Also, these aren't truly vegan because I use honey in lieu of agave nectar but I say whatever to that anyway. To me, it's the same and all stores carry honey. Now, on to the recipe!

1 jar morello cherries from Trader Joe's, drained with liquid reserved (about 12 oz without liquid)
Add enough cherries, fresh or frozen to make one lb. of total fruit (I made sure to run a knife through everything as a means of checking for pits but also to make sure the cherries were more bite-sized)
1/4 cup reserved cherry juice mixed with 2 Tbs cornstarch, shake to form a slurry
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups oatmeal, rolled oats not instant
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs honey
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.

In a small saucepan, combine the cherries and juice/cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir in the vanilla and continue to stir as the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put 1 1/2 cups of the oatmeal into a food processor (or blender) and grind it to a fine powder. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt, pulse to combine. Add the apple sauce, agave nectar, water, and vanilla, and pulse until fully mixed. Add reserved oats and pulse briefly until just combined. Don't overmix.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing well to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon the cherry filling over the batter and cover with the remaining batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Makes 16 bars. When cool, dust with 10X sugar or make a glaze with 10X sugar and a bit of water. These are absolutely decadent when served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream but are also good plain.

Note: if you can't find or don't want to use morello cherries, you can use 1 lb. fresh or frozen cherries but you'll probably want to add some sweetener when you boil them. If you like it tart, so be it, but I must say this was very, very good with the morellos.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

soba noodle salad

From Simply Recipes. Elise makes a note that you can make this the night before, and we did -- we were having our downstairs neighbor over and we needed something we could serve quickly. I actually think it might be even better when it sits overnight -- the noodles and mango, and the chicken we added, really picked up the citrus and the rice vinegar.

Elise thinks this makes six large main-dish servings, but four of us managed to polish off the majority of it.

  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar (we used a little more so we would have some extra marinade for the chicken)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced (skipped this but wish we hadn't)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 12 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped (we also added some chopped snow peas)
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and chopped into cubes (the way she suggests works like a dream)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  • Lime wedges for serving (optional)

1 Place the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until the sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño, and allow to cool. Add the lime juice, lime zest, and sesame oil and mix well.

2 Cook the noodles in salted water, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and then rinse well under cool water. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss with the dressing.

3 Add the mango, bell pepper, basil and mint. Toss and plate. Serve with chopped peanuts sprinkled over the top and lime wedges.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bread Machine Pizza Dough With Whole Wheat Flour

© 2009 Recipezaar. All Rights Reserved.
Recipe #137143

Cookin-jo says: This dough turns out crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, just what my family likes. No one even noticed that it was made with half whole wheat flour. After trying numerous recipes, I was told this was the keeper. From The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathwell German.

2 days | 15 min prep

2 14 inch round pizzas

* 1 1/3 cups water
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups whole wheat flour
* 2 teaspoons yeast

1. Add ingredients in the order given into the bread machine pan.
2. Start dough cycle. (On my machine this takes 2 hours).
3. Once the dough is done remove it from the pan onto a floured work surface.
4. Roll dough to fit the shape of your pan. This recipe makes two 14 inch round pizzas.
5. Brush lightly with olive oil and add toppings. You can hold this dough, with just the olive oil, for a couple of hours in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
6. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
7. This recipe is the large sized recipe. It also comes in small and medium.

Spicy Corn Fritters

from Elise at Simply Recipes

Dipping Sauce

* 3/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 large clove garlic, minced


* 1 cup flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 cups of corn kernels, (see steps for cutting corn from a cob) cut from 3 large cobs (or frozen corn, defrost and drain first)
* 4 large scallions or green onions, finely sliced (about half a cup)
* 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
* Grapeseed, canola, or peanut oil (a high smoke point oil) for frying



1 Make the dipping sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium high, let boil for 5-10 minutes or so, until the mixture becomes somewhat syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool. The sauce should continue to thicken as it cools. If it becomes too thick, you can add a little water to it to thin it out a bit.

spicy-corn-fritters-2.jpg spicy-corn-fritters-3.jpg

2 Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground coriander, and ground cumin in a medium bowl. Add egg, lemon juice and water. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the corn, onions, and cilantro. Stir until just combined.

spicy-corn-fritters-4.jpg spicy-corn-fritters-5.jpg

3 Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot (shimmering not smoking), spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons worth of fritter batter into the pan to form one fritter, patting it down with the back of the spoon as soon as it is in the pan. Work in batches. Leave about 1/2 inch between the fritters in the pan. Let cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping the fritters when they are nicely browned on one side. When browned on the other side, remove the fritters to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat.

Add oil as needed to keep the bottom of the pan well coated. Note that the fritters will likely splatter a bit as you are cooking. So, either use a screen splatter guard, or wear long sleeved clothes while you cook.

Makes approximately 16 fritters. Serve immediately with the sweet chili dipping sauce.

Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine

from Elise of Simply Recipes

Use high-quality, soft, fresh Mozzarella (the kind packed in water in the refrigerated section of the grocery store). [or make it your dang self!]

Terrine ingredients:

* 3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 lbs)
* 2 large, firm eggplants (about 2 1/2 lbs)
* 2 Tbsp grapeseed or peanut oil (high smoke-point oil)
* 1 1/2 cups loosely-packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 8 oz of fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/8-in slices, about 14 slices

Raw tomato sauce:

* 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
* 2 to 3 ripe tomatoes (1 1/4 lbs), each cut into 6 to 8 pieces
* 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
* 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


1 Prepare the red peppers. Arrange the red peppers on a broiling pan and place them under a hot broiler so that their upper surfaces are about 1/2 inch from the heat. Broil for 15 minutes, turning occassionally, until the peppers are blistered and black on all sides. (You can alternatively blacken the peppers directly over the open flame of a gas cook-top, holding them and turning them with tongs.) Place them in a brown paper or plastic bag and close the bag. Let the peppers steam in their own residual heat inside the bag for 10 minutes. Then peel them (the skin will slide off) and remove the seeds.

Note that Trader Joe's makes an excellent bottled cooked red pepper that can be used as a shortcut to the above step. [Do this step]]

2 Prepare the eggplants. Heat a grill or grill pan until very hot. Cut the eggplants into 1/2-inch slices and lay out flat on a large flat surface such as a baking pan. Brush the slices on both sides with the grapeseed or peanut oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the eggplant slices on the grill, covered, for 4 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned and softened. If your grill does not have a lid, make a tentlike lid of aluminum foil and place it over the eggplant as it cooks.

3 Prepare the parsley. While the eggplant is grilling, soften the parsley by blanching it in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove, cool under cold water, drain. [I used basil from the garden instead]

4 Build the terrine. Line a terrine mold (loaf pan) with plastic wrap. Arrange a layer of eggplant in the bottom of the mold and top it with about a third each of the red pepper pieces, parsley, and cheese. Repeat, beginning and ending with a layer of eggplant, until all the ingredients are used. Cover with plastic wrap and press on the wrap to compact the mixture. Refrigerate.

At this point you can make the terrine in advance and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

5 Prepare the sauce. Place the garlic and tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth. Push the mixture through a food mill (fitted with a fine screen) over a bowl. Add the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Mix well.

To serve, pour some of the sauce on a large platter and unmold the terrine in the center. Cut it into slices and serve with the remainder of the sauce.

[would also be good in crusty bread sandwich the next day]

30 minute mozzerella

You guys? I made cheese. On the first try.
I'm really pleased.
You too should make cheese.

I ordered rennet and citric acid here...:

...and followed this recipe (which you have to be careful to follow both the photo steps AND the written steps because they both give different and sometimes differing info. Also, it took me 1 hr 15 minutes the first time, so I'm hoping to get closer to 30 minutes next time:

We tried it and liked it and then served it to guests and I tried not to be too icky about how excited I was to have made the cheese my-dang-self!

Bread Machine Recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Oats, Bran, and Flaxseed Meal

[I love making bread in my oven, but I have been using a bread machine this summer that I bought on Craigslist. The little square loaves are not the most beautiful, but they taste just fine]

(Makes one loaf, about 1.5 pounds, recipe created by Kalyn.)

Dry ingredients - Mix in bowl:

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup ground rolled oats (oatmeal ground in a food processor, or use 1 cup whole oatmeal)

1/3 cup wheat bran

2 T flaxseed meal

2 T vital wheat gluten

1 T dough enhancer

1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients and sweeteners - Mix in measuring cup:

1 1/3 cup lukewarm water

1 T olive oil

1 T agave nectar

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. yeast (I used Red Star Active Dry Yeast, not a special yeast for bread machines.)

Follow directions for your bread machine. In my Oster Bread Machine I put the liquid in first, followed by the dry ingredients I mixed in the bowl. Then I make a small well in the flour and put the yeast in that. I used the whole wheat setting on the machine.

Watch bread while it goes through the first mixing cycle, and if it doesn't form a ball you may need to add either more flour or water, 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should make a firm ball and be only slightly sticky.

If you're going to be taking photos of the bread for your food blog, you may want to take the dough out of the machine right before the final rise and gently fold sides under to make a loaf with a smooth top. When I didn't do that, I still had a tasty bread but the top wasn't as well-shaped.

My bread machine takes 3 hours 40 minutes for the whole wheat cycle. Bread is delicious hot or cold, and also makes great toast.

[I'm messing around with this recipe. This time, I subbed a cup of bread flour for the oats and omitted the gluten and dough enhancer and added an extra 1/2 t of yeast. This is a dense recipe; my machine walked off the counter and smashed all over the floor yesterday. To it's credit, it took that lickin' , but when I plunked the dough ball back in the pan and plugged the machine back into the socket, it picked up where it had left off .]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from: Pioneer Woman, who credits Pastor Ryan

Pioneer Woman's entry about this recipe provides some gorgeous photos to illustrate each step. I adapted the recipe somewhat to reduce the amount of fat and sodium, and also to accommodate what I had on hand in the kitchen.

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
ground coriander
ground cumin
1/2 C. plain yogurt (I used Greek)
2 Tbsp butter for sauteeing onions, plus 2 Tbsp butter for rice
1 1/2 C. heavy cream, evaporated milk, or regular milk (PW used heavy cream, I used 1% milk b/c that's what I had on hand.)
28 oz diced or crushed tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
fresh ginger, 1x2 inch piece, peeled and grated
3 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp sugar
2 C basmati rice (I used Jasmine)

Optional: some kind of pepper (serano, jalepeno, etc), cilantro, turmeric, frozen peas

Season the chicken breasts with kosher salt, on both sides. Next, sprinkle both sides with some ground coriander and ground cumin. Coat the chicken breasts completely with yogurt. Place the chicken breasts on a metal cooling rack, which is placed in a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil the chicken 5-7 minutes per side, about 8-10 inches from the heating unit. Watch the chicken so you don't totally char it. A little charring is ok - the edges should be slightly blackened. (It took my chicken about 10 minutes per side to get a slight charring and to be cooked all the way through.)

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the diced onion. Saute until lightly browned. Add minced garlic and ginger. Add a bit of salt to the mixture. Next, add 3 Tbsp garam masala. If you want to add some heat, add some chopped chili pepper here (I added 2 jalapenos, with seeds and ribs removed, minced). Next, add diced tomatoes with their juices. Cook and stir, scraping up any bits from bottom of the pan. Add 1 Tbsp of sugar. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. (I used diced tomatoes, but decided I wanted a smoother sauce, so I used the immersion blender here to smooth things out a bit.)

In a rice cooker, add 2 cups of basmati rice, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp turmeric (optional) and 4 cups of water. Turn rice cooker on and walk away. If you don't have a rice cooker, use your regular method to cook the rice.

After the sauce has had a chance to simmer for a bit, add the heavy cream (or milk). Chop the chicken breasts into chunks and add to the sauce. Add a handful of chopped cilantro if you like. When rice is finished, you can add a handful of frozen peas and stir them into the rice to cook. Serve chicken tikka masala over the rice. Serve with naan.

Baked Tofu

From: The Kitchn

I used to get tofu squares from the salad bar at Whole Foods, and I could never figure out how to make them the same way at home. I tried marinating them, coating them in cornstarch, etc, before sauteing them. Well, I finally found a close approximation of those delicious tofu squares. Bake them!

I made my own marinade for these, and it was really, really good. I just mixed up a bit of sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, honey, teriyaki sauce, granulated garlic, powdered ginger, and a bit of sriracha for heat.

1 (16-ounce) block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup soy sauce or other marinade

Drain the block of tofu. Set it on a clean dish towel (or paper towels) on a rimmed dinner plate. Place another plate on top and weight it down with something heavy, like a handy can of tomatoes or a heavy skillet, to press out some of the excess liquid. Let sit 15 - 30 minutes.

Cut the tofu into pieces. You can do cubes for croutons, sticks for dipping, flat squares to layer on sandwiches, or any other shape you feel like.

Put the cut tofu in a shallow dish, cover with marinade, and let sit for 15 - 30 minutes. Flip the tofu a few times so the marinade is absorbed evenly. The longer you let the tofu sit, the deeper the flavor will be.

Pre-heat your oven (or toaster oven!) to 375-degrees. Cover a baking sheet (or toaster oven insert) with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick spray. Cook the tofu cubes for 10 minutes and then flip them over. Continue cooking and flipping every 10 minutes until the tofu is as baked as you like it, 20 - 45 minutes total.

As you bake, the tofu will shrink, the texture will get chewier, and the flavor will get more concentrated. For salads, we like it baked so it's just toasted on the outside but still silken in the middle. For snacking or dipping, we like to bake it until it's pretty dense and has a good bite.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Spicy Vegan Carrot Muffins

I know, more muffins. But these are good for you, use very little sweetening, are vegan (but don't have to be) and a good way to use up some carrots or zucchini languishing about the fridge. These are adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (I used 1 C WW flour and 3/4 C AP but next time will try it with all WW pastry flour)
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (I did not use)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger (this is a lot of ginger so cut back a bit if you like)
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1/3 cup agave nectar or honey (okay, no longer vegan if you do this, but whatever)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 C soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup shredded carrots (about 3)
1/4 cup raisins
Optional topping: Vanilla sugar (I skipped since I was mailing them to my in-laws)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray or use muffin liners. You can use a 12-cup pan or a 24-cup pan. I liked the mini pan for this recipe.

Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add the liquid to the dry and mix just long enough to combine. Alton Brown would tell you not to stir more than 10 times and as a faithful disciple, I stirred no more than 10 times. Add the carrots and raisins and stir 3 times to combine. Now, let sit for 5 minutes.

I used a small cookie scoop to dish out the batter and it's really thick so the scoop is ideal. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar, if using. Bake for 15-20 minutes for bigger muffins or 8 minutes for minis. Cool on a baking rack and store in an air-tight container. One of the best parts about vegan baking is that you can lick the spoon with impunity.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mark Bittman's Tomato Jam

From: Mark Bittman, obviously! :)

This is still cooking on my stovetop, but I've tasted it off the spoon and it is GOOD! Bittman suggests serving it on bread or toast, or as a condiment with chicken or fish. I'm already expecting that I'll have to make another batch very shortly. I don't think this is going to last long.

Tip: For an easy way to seed and core the jalapeno, cut the stem off. Invert the pepper to put the cut "top" on the cutting board. Use a knife to slice the pepper away from the core. This way you never have to touch the core or seeds!

1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes (Roma are best), cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted, out of cloves!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste.

1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.

Yield: About 1 pint.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

versatile buttermilk bread (banana or zucchini)

Get ready for the tons of zucchini recipes -- the yellow squash in my garden is doing terribly this year, but the zucchini is coming in like gangbusters. Busting gangs of squash bugs and snails.

This recipe has both banana and zucchini variations, and the zucchini one was so good that I'll include both.

Banana Bread

Zucchini Bread

  1. Banana bread: Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. For zucchini bread, omit vanilla and bananas. Add above ingredients and bake as directed.
  2. Pour into greased bundt pan. (I doubled the recipe and used two loaf pans, and it made two big loaves and eight overflow muffins.)
  3. Bake about 50-55 minutes at 350°F. (Mine took less time; about 35-40 minutes for the loaves and 25 for the muffins.)
  4. Mini chocolate chips and chopped nuts may also be added, if desired.