Sunday, January 25, 2015

Korean Barbecue Tofu

I can't wait to get this photo up!  This really makes a lovely presentation.  Please stayed tuned!

I haven't used tofu in years (one of the reasons I wanted to do my cookbook project) and this was one of my favorites and that hasn't changed.  Tofu is so incredibly versatile, affordable, and oh-so-good-for-you.  It's like a sponge and absorbs whatever flavors you blend into it or marinade it in.  From using the silken or soft tofu for salad dressings or desserts up to extra-firm tofu for dishes like this, it's hard to understand why it's not more prevalent.  I guess it seems too "hippy-ish" for the meat and potatoes folk I come from!

But back to this dish....I haven't made it for years, decades actually.  And it is every bit as delicious as I remember.  This book was published in 1982, a time when we weren't as conscience or informed about better nutritional choices (although we were evolving), so I made a few adjustments (using lower-sodium soy sauce, freshly minced garlic instead of garlic powder, and less amount of sugar - or substituting sucrolose).  Also, packaging amounts have changed (remember when a can of anything was a full 16 ounces and now it's 14, 14 1/2, or 15 ounces?) so I used the 14 oz tub of tofu.

One note:  if you try this, be sure to have your oven vent on high and a good splatter screen on hand!  Although I have almost eliminated the amount of oil originally called for, you still need a tiny bit, even in a non-stick pan, and when the soy-marinated tofu hits the hot pan, it will smoke and splatter!

For photo purposes, I served this on a plate of rice, but I actually prefer it on it's own.  I did saute some mushrooms and snow peas which not only look nice, but are a great accompaniment to the entree.

KOREAN BARBECUE TOFU (2-4 servings)\

Cut into 1/4 slices:

14 oz package of extra-firm tofu

Marinate at least 2 hours (overnight is best) in a mixture of:

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar or sucralose (Splenda)
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp freshly minced garlic, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium to medium-high heat (#6 on my glass-top cooktop).  Brush the skillet with vegetable oil.  Cook each slice about 5 minutes per side (I like the edges a bit crusty).  If cooking all of the tofu at one time, you will need to split it into 2 or 3 batches.

Recipe Source:  Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler, 1982, p. 81

Friday, January 23, 2015

Corn Chowder

Well, once again my photos won't load.  I was hoping it might have had something to do with the batteries since they needed replacing, but that wasn't it.  The photos still will go onto the computer, I just can't get them to post here.  So thank you for your patience.  As soon as Jim gets home, I'll see if he can figure it out.

Until then, I'd been saving my ham bone thinking I wanted to do something other than bean soup and had focused on corn chowder.  However, when I saw this recipe in one of my Moosewood cookbooks "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest," I thought this would be the one to try, sans ham or bacon.

And I must say, it's mighty delicious.  And simple.  No traditional thickener or roux, except pureed corn.  The flavor is wonderful.  I did double the amount of dried thyme and basil and also added some smoked paprika to an individual bowl of chowder (not to the whole pot).  I loved with plain and with the paprika.

The author, Mollie Katzen, did make a note about the evaporated milk, "I like to use this as often as possible in place of cream as it imparts a deep, rich flavor with much less butterfat.  Low-fat evaporated milk is also available, and also good.  The reduces the butterfat level even further."  I used regular evaporated milk with outstanding results.

CORN CHOWDER (3-4 servings)

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup minced celery
1 sweet red pepper, minced
4 cups frozen or fresh corn (about 4-5 ears of corn)
S&P to taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp dried basil
smoked paprika to taste, optional
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, or water
1 cup evaporated milk (or regular milk)

In a medium-sized saucepan or a stockpot, saute the onions and celery in the butter for about 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat until they reach the tenderness you desire.  Add chopped red peppers and corn.

Add seasonings, stir well, and cover.  Reduce heat, let it cook 5 minutes.

Add stock.  Cover and simmer about 10 mintues.  Using a blender or food processor, puree about half the solids in some of the soup's own liquid.

About 10 minutes before serving time, add the milk.  Don't actually cook the soup any further, simply heat it, gently, to eating temperature.

Recipe Source: "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest" by Mollie Katzen, 1982, p. 24

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Smoked Turkey


OK, I'm not sure what's going on with my ability to load photos, but, once again, I can't get the photo of turkey to load.  I have a feeling I'm just going to have to wait for Jim to get home to help.

So for this one, please use your imagination:  picture a fully cooked turkey.  BINGO! 

On an never-ending journey to try to make space in my freezer (while at the same time keep filling them up), I had a turkey and some baby-backs I have been wanted to smoke for a while (Jim says you should never smoke one thing at a time, load 'em up and let the drippings fall on the meat below). 

So I put the ribs on the top rack and the turkey underneath.  The smoker was set at between 225F & 250F.  I put the ribs curved-side down and the turkey breast-side up.  My turkey was 12.5 pounds and the rack of ribs was about 3 pounds.  I simply put S&P on the ribs and rubbed some chicken rub over the turkey and let it cook for about 3 hours.  The turkey breast should register 165F on your thermometer.  Mine took about 3 1/2 hours. 

For the ribs, I cooked them for 2 hours, took them out and covered them with BBQ sauce and wrapped them in heavy-duty aluminum foil.  After about an hour, I uncovered them and let them cook another 15 minutes to let the sauce caramelize.  You could certainly leave them covered if your prefer them a bit more "steamed."

All in all, it was the easiest smoking experience to date.  Little if any prep and I just let the smoker work its magic.  The smoker we have is not the top-of-the-line (you can get them with more racks, digital thermometers, timers, remote controls), but for the two of us and The Girls, it's a perfect $125 investment that has lasted us for years and does the job it's meant to do:  infuse that wonderful smoke flavor into your favorite meat, fish, vegetables, and fabulous side dishes like Mac 'n' Cheese and Smoked Baked Beans.  And we can use it 12 months a year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gypsy Soup

OK....I give up for now (photo wise).  I'll keep trying!
 


This was one of my very first "Moosewood" recipes.  I haven't made it for years, and forgot just how wonderful it is.  This is most definitely an autumn/winter soup. 

This was first published in the very first Moosewood cookbook (1977) and showed again in the revised original cookbook (1992).  When Moosewood first began publishing cookbooks, they focused on vegetarian (not vegan) recipes, but weren't into the healthier versions.  Fifteen years later, their recipes were revised to reflect more modern health concerns like lower fat (initial recipes might call for as much as a 1/4 cup of olive oil, when 1 Tablespoon would suffice).

While this recipe is a mixture of the two editions, I lean much more towards the newer version.  There were a few directions that differed between the two, so I just sort of combined them to make the one easiest with ingredients I prefer.  One recipe calls for using a green bell pepper, but I prefer the sweeter red/orange/yellow choice.  Also, while I used sweet potatoes, you could substitute carrots, squash or pumpkin.  And if you prefer a green pepper, you could use that or substitute peas or green beans.  Or as many/few vegetables you like or have on hand.

The two things I absolutely wouldn't substitute or eliminate are the turmeric and the cinnamon.  The turmeric gives this a beautiful yellow tinge, and the cinnamon lends that autumn/winter aura.  Serve with with a wonderful crusty baguette, ciabatta, or artisan bread and you are set for a cold afternoon or evening.

GYPSY SOUP (4-6 servings)

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 cups chopped onion
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato (about 1 medium/large sweet potato)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dried basil
dash cinnamon
dash or less cayenne, optional
1 bay leaf
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 medium sweet pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups (15 oz can) cooked chick peas (garbanzos)

In a soup kettle or stock pot, heat olive oil then add onions, garlic, celery, and sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes.  Add seasonings and the water or stock.  Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.  Add remaining vegetables and chickpeas.  Simmer another 10 minutes until all of the vegetables are as tender as you like them.

Recipe Source:  Moosewood Cookbooks, 1977 edition and 1992 editions, both p. 5

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ratatouille Soup


I am off to a slow cooking start this year!  But again, being alone it's hard to make and then not waste new dishes when you're alone.

But soup is always a good bet, at least for me.  And this vegan soup is just about as flavorful and healthy as you could make....a great staple to have around with you need a snack  (well, this is my idea of a snack, anyway!)

I'm posting the original recipe as I found it which states that is serves 4-6.   Unless you're in the land of giants, I think that is way, way understated.  I made half of the recipe and it made 8 cups.  The recipe calls to use 3 (14.5 oz) cans of tomatoes, I used one.  It calls for one (15 oz) can of cannellini beans and I used the entire can which help thicken the soup even more, which I prefer.

I would suggest one thing:  after all of the vegetables are cooked and you put aside half of them, pull out as much of the eggplant as possible.  It's wonderful pureed in the soup, but not so good in chunks.  Also, this calls to saute the vegetables in vegetable oil, but if you want to make this virtually fat-free, saute them in a stock pot sprayed with cooking spray.

RATATOUILLE SOUP (makes about 16 cups)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups medium-diced onion
3 cups medium-diced red pepper (about 1 extra-large or 2 medium red peppers)\
S&P to taste
5 cups medium-diced eggplant (about 1 extra-large or 2 medium eggplants)
5 cups medium-diced zucchini (about 2 large or 3 medium zucchini)
3 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 (15 oz) can cannelli beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart vegetable broth

Heat the oil in a 4 or 5 quart stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, peppers, S&P (about 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper) and saute until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft.  Add the eggplant and saute until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini and saute until it begins to soften, another 5 minutes.

Remove about 3 cups of the sauteed vegetables (my recommendation: leave as much of the eggplant cubes in the vegetables which will be pureed, using mainly onions, peppers, and zucchini as the chunks) from the stock pot and set them aside to cool.  Add the stewed tomatoes, cannellini beans, vegetable stock, and S&P to taste.  Bring the mixture to a simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

In a blender being careful with the hot liquid, puree the vegetables in batches (NOTE:  Since I halved the recipe, I was able to blend everything at one time in my 64-oz Vitamix).  Blend until completely smooth.  Place the pureed soup back in the stock pot, add the reserved sauteed vegetables, and bring the soup up to a simmer over medium heat until heated through.

Recipe Source:  www.qvc.com/RatatouilleSoup.content.html

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Caponata



 

 
Many years ago (decades, acctually) I had the best caponata ever from a deli in Florida.  I have no idea where it was, but I'll never forget the taste.  I've never even bothered to attempt caponata because I knew I could never replicate it.
 
But I ran across a recipe for "Ratatouille Soup" the other day (which I plan on making tomorrow) and had an itch for something else eggplant.  Getting a slow start on my cookbook project, I found this capanata in one of my Moosewood Cookbooks.
 
Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York which, I believe, opened back in the 70's.  I have all of their cookbooks from my vegetarian days and love each one of them.  Takes me back in time.
 
If you've never had caponata, it's a Sicilian relish often served with every meal.  Every recipe varies, sometimes made with fewer vegetables, without pinenuts or olives, with sugar and raisins, but alway with eggplant and celery.  This recipe recommends sauteing ingredients separately, but others cook everything altogether.
 
It is extremely versatile, it makes a good sandwich filling or pasta topping, a side dish to a simple chicken or fish entree, or served as an appetizer with crostini.
 
The recipes I found instructed the cook to coarsely chop the vegetables.  When I put it all together, I wanted a finer chop so I re-chopped the mixture.  Still not sure, I put half of the caponata in a food processor and pulsed it a few times and ended up mixing half of the pulsed vegetables and half of the finer chopped vegetables.  It's completely a personal preference and what you'll be using it for.
 
Also, I omitted the pine nuts and ended up adding 1 tsp of dried oregano and 1 Tbsp tomato paste.  I halved the original recipe so what is posted below is the amount I made.
 
CAPONATA (makes 2 1/2-3 cups)
 
1 small eggplant (about 1#), unpeeled, chopped into 1/2" cubes (2 1/2-3 cups)
1/2 large onion, chopped
EVOO
2 celery stalks, chopped or sliced
1 large red or green pepper (or 1/2 each), chopped
2-3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted, optional
1/2 Tbsp rinsed and drained capers, optional
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp tomato paste, optional
1 tsp dried oregano, optional
S&P to taste
 
Soak the cubed eggplant in salted water to cover for at least 15 minutes and then rinse and dry.
 
Meanwhile, in a large skillet (I used cast-iron), saute the onion in EVOO (about 1 Tbsp).  After a couple of minutes, add the celery.  Saute, stirring frequently, until celery is brightly colored and still somewhat firm; remove the onions and celery to a large mixing bowl.
 
Add a bit more EVOO to the skillet, and saute the peppers, stirring frequently.  When the peppers are almost done, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and saute for just 1 minute more;  add this to the bowl with the onion mixture.
 
Add the a bit more olive oil to the skillet, and saute the eggplant until golden and tender.  Add the rest of the ingredients (pine nuts through oregano) to the mixing bowl while the eggplant cooks.  Add the sauteed eggplant.  Mix well.
 
If you like, use a large chef's knife to chop the mixture even more.  Depending on the texture you're looking for, consider adding part or all of the mixture to a food processor and pulse 2-3 times (or leave the original mixture as is).
 
Serve hot, chilled, or a room temperature.
 
Recipe Source:  Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, 1990, p. 333

Monday, January 5, 2015

Peppery Parsnips


I had never heard of, much less eaten, a parsnip until I ran across that incredible "Parsnip and Spinach Soup Dijon" (see 12-2-14 post) years ago (I wish I knew where the recipe came from).  I make the soup for special occasions or for fancy dinners.  But I had never just eaten a parsnip by itself.  So when I ran across this recipe a few months ago, I knew I had to try it.

BINGO!  This pungent root really mellows in this recipe.  That incredible flavor is still there, but caramelizes in the butter.  Recipe states that it serves four, but I ate the entire batch for dinner all by myself for tonight!

PEPPERY PARSNIPS (4 servings)

1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
S&P to taste

Cut parsnips in half crosswise (where they go from fat to narrow).  Quarter narrow pieces lengthwise, and cut fatter pieces lengthwise into french-fry strips.  Put parsnips in a saucepan, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until parsnips are tender, 10-20 minutes depending on size of strips.  Drain well and pat dry.

Melt butter in a 12" skillets over medium heat then arrange parsnips in hot butter in an even layer.  Season generously with S&P.  Cook parsnips until lightly golden brown on both sides, 3-5 minutes per side.

Recipe Source:  All Recipes magazine, December/January 2015, p. 98