Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kale and tofu salad

I got this recipe off of Cheap, Healthy, Good a few months ago but just got around to making it. Believe it or not, I had never had raw kale, and I was a bit wary. I didn't think it would taste bad, but I didn't think kale's bitter green virtues would be accentuated by raw consumption. I was wrong. I think I still prefer the just-wilted taste, but the raw kale was a nice change of pace. I was also wary of the combination of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, but it was pretty good. The only thing is that I found it overly flavored when I made it the first time. I had let it sit in the marinade for several hours. I think just a 30-minute marinade is ideal.

Kale and tofu salad, slightly modified from this post.

1 pound extra firm tofu
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey

4-5 cups chopped kale (I just used regular curly kale, but any kind would probably be good)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Salt and pepper

Cube the tofu. Mix together next 4 ingredients and marinate tofu in them for about 30 minutes. Place tofu on oiled baking sheet and pour excess marinade over it. Cook tofu in 375 oven for about 30 minutes, flipping after 20 minutes.

Put the kale in a big bowl. Mix together next four ingredients and adjust acidity and seasoning to taste. Toss kale with dressing. Add tofu.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Festive salad

This is a salad Jon and I co-invented a few nights ago. Jon doesn't tend to go for salads with fruit in them, but the grapefruit seemed like a nice change of pace for the evening. We peeled all the membrane off the grapefruit for extra fanciness. And I think having the cucumber slices peeled made it seem fancier as well. The fig vinegar was a gift from a friend. It's very thick and syrupy, and we were happy to use it for the first time on this salad. Delicious!

Salad ingredients:
Lettuce (both red leaf and romaine)
Cucumber, peeled
Red grapefruit
Feta cheese
Sunflower seeds

Topped with:
Fig vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve dinner

We decided to make the Persian layered pilafs from Vegetable Heaven by Mollie Katzen for dinner yesterday. The idea is that you make three different rice pilafs, one with beets, one with carrots, and one with onions (to which we added some cooked beluga lentils), and layer them. Your adoring husband, mother, or other guests ooh and aah as they take slices of this spectacular tower of rice. You can eat the layers separately or mix them together. The problem is the layering (and my hubris). Our first idea was to press each layer into a small ramekin and then turn them out onto a plate, one on top of the other. Jon tried to do this. Much to my surprise, the second layer was perfect. I snapped a picture, just in case.
And it was a good thing, because the third layer ended up like this.
Then I, in my hubris, decided that it would be better to layer them all in a large ramekin and turn them out onto a plate all at once. I pressed the rice into the ramekin really tightly, found a big plate, and turned it over. As I slid the ramekin off, I told Jon to get the camera quick. He snapped the first picture mere seconds before the second one.
I tried in vain to scoop up the pink layer as it fell, but it was useless. Then the other side started crumbling. I whisked away the precarious tower of rice and took it back to the stove where it wouldn't continue to get the table dirty. Then I went back and gathered as much rice from the table as possible. My plate ended up looking kind of like Rainbow Brite vomited on it.
(Sorry so blurry. It looked clear on the camera screen.)
After eating, I did my best to separate the rice back into three pilafs. They stacked much better like this.

I think next time I do this, we will put the pilafs into ramekins to shape but have them sitting next to each other on the plate rather than trying to stack them. We think it might make a nice base to some cooked bok choy, or a simple piece of chicken or fish (if we ate that). I have hope for this, but I don't think it's ready for prime time yet.

Tonight we're having friends over for dinner. Jon is making his delicious mac and cheese and kale, our friends are bringing a salad, and for dessert we're having leftover cranberry upside-down cake my mom made for us when we were in Dallas earlier this week.

I leave you with a Christmas miracle.

We had been having a dickens of a time finding a good avocado. The ones that felt right tended to be black and hard inside. Then Jon found this. With hummus, sprouts, and veggies, it made an epic sandwich. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inspiration Soup III

It's been a while since I made inspiration soup, but a recent freezer reorganization reminded me of some neglected chickpeas and their cooking water. We also had some leftover potatoes Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes in the fridge from a previous root veggie roast, and I wanted to get them into something. In case you are unfamiliar with them, Jerusalem artichokes are not from Jerusalem, nor do they resemble artichokes in any way. They are very knobby and kind of look like ginger. The taste is very reminiscent of potatoes, but they are a little sweeter and hold their texture better than potatoes do. The soup itself is vegan, but I like to finish it with a little parmesan cheese or a poached egg, as pictured above.

Inspiration soup III (Return of the inspiration):
Makes about 4 servings

Vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 new potatoes, diced
1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes, well scrubbed and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 quart chickpea cooking water
1 1/2 tsp salt
About 2 tsp total of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and other such herbs you've got lying around
Big pinch cumin
Big pinch smoked paprika
Black pepper to taste.
1 cup cooked chickpeas
4 kale leaves, washed and coarsely chopped

Saute onion in vegetable oil for about five minutes. Add garlic, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, and carrot and saute a few more minutes. Add chickpea broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes are tender. Add cooked chickpeas and kale, and heat until kale is wilted.

Asian Risotto

This idea came to me when I added some of Ev's wonderful spicy spiced oil to leftover mushroom risotto. We don't do much fusion food, but here is our contribution to the genre.
Just a warning: all ingredient measurements are approximate.

Risotto ingredients:

1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup white mushrooms
2 oyster mushrooms
1 small onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup arborio rice

Broth ingredients:
5 cups water
2 tsp Better than Bouillon mushroom base
2 star anises
1/2 tsp whole szechuan peppercorns
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 slices dried ginger

For serving:
Sauteed kale or (baby) bok choy
Soy sauce

Combine the broth ingredients in a stockpot. Bring to a simmer and keep on low heat.

Reconstitute the dried shiitakes in about 1 cup of hot water. Drain and put the liquid in the broth.

Dice the onions and mushrooms. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok or deep pan. Add mushrooms and salt. Cook until they have given up their water. Add the wine and rice. Cook until the wine is absorbed. Add broth to the risotto. Cook until the broth is mostly absorbed and add more broth (1/2 a cup at a time). Repeat until the desired consistency is reached.

Finish with some spiced oil and serve on a bed of greens. Season with salt or a little soy sauce to taste.