Monday, October 26, 2009

Vegan Feast; Baked Tofu and Vegetable Medley

Luis and I are by no means vegan but every once in a while I forget to defrost meat and have to make due. More and more of my friends seem to be discovering they have food allergies or just want to try to go vegan for awhile, so this meal is for you.

I recently discovered a recipe for Oven-Baked Tofu that is incredibly easy and tasty. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take a typical package of tofu, remove from water and pat dry with paper towels. Place block of tofu on a pie dish (or something oven safe with sides) and brush with soy sauce. (If you don't have soy sauce you can just salt the block.) Let bake for 1 hour; then slice to serve.

A good accompanying dish is a variety of vegetables - also baked. For this combination, I used the following;
  • 3 medium zucchinis, sliced
  • 3 small summer squash, sliced
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • half large onion, sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon celery flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of the baking dish with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the vegetables, spinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and toss with 2 TBLS to 1/4 cup of olive oil. (Use more or less olive oil per your preference.) Place in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees and bake for an hour.

You can use any combination of vegetables and herbs you want here. It is all about what you have around and want to mix.

Finally, I cooked up some quinoa - which a grain-like seed that is high in protein and has a pleasant, nutty flavor. It's easy to cook; boil 2 cups of water or stock, add 1 cup of quinoa, lower temperature and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is gone.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Orange Juice Small Grain

Let me preface this by first saying that while this turned out delicious, there are many things I would have done differently. So, I wasn't sure what the title for this post should be.
I stole this idea from my friend, Cinzia, who brought this to a dinner party last night. She used Israeli couscous, but since I didn't have any on hand and had some orzo pasta, I thought, why not?
Things I Would Have Done Differently #1: Use a grain not a pasta. I think the difference is that there was A LOT of starch in the pasta and since you aren't draining it, the starch stays in the dish and makes it gummier than if you stick to a grain. Cinzia said she made hers in her rice cooker, too. Much easier I would think. The trick she taught me is to cook the grain/pasta in orange juice instead of water or stock. She used half orange juice half carrot juice.
Things I Would Have Done Differently #2: Do not use all orange juice. Orange juice is made up of a lot of sugar, right? When you boil it (and combined with all the starch in the pasta) it gets very thick. Cinzia's dish was more creamy than thick OR gummy. Actually, I think depending on your taste and price range (because carrot juice is pricey, man) you could just use a combo of water and OJ. I think 2/3 OJ to 1/3 water would work. I ended up adding water in the end to finish cooking the pasta.
Next are the shallots. Cinzia just said she fried some shallots. I sauteed them in butter.
Things I (maybe) Would Have Done Differently#3: I might use olive oil next time. It occurred to me that since I plan on serving this cold for my lunch tomorrow and olive oil is a liquid at room temp, using olive oil instead of butter might also have helped the texture of the dish. It's only a LITTLE bit compared the rest of the dish, but it couldn't hurt. The shallots, I think, are the key to this dish. The garlicky/onion taste combined with the sweetness of the juice make the dish. So, whatever else you do, don't forget the shallots.
Cinzia's dish was: Israeli couscous cooked in half OJ, half carrot juice, shelled edamame, sauteed shallots and sliced almonds. It was absolutely delicious!
My pantry's substitutions: Orzo cooked in OJ (eventually slightly diluted with water), shelled edamame, sauteed shallots, chopped peanuts and diced cilantro. Still pretty darn good.
I wish I could give you exact measurements, but I eyeballed everything. Here's a guess:

1 1/2 cups orzo
2 cups orange juice (I would suggest 1 1/2 cups oj and 1/2 cup water or stock)
Extra water to add while stirring the cooking orzo (I ended up cooking it like a risotto, stirring often)
1 cup edamame
2 large shallots sauteed in 3 tsp butter
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Can be served hot or cold.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian Style Chicken Sautee and Polenta

Still experiencing cold and foggy weather in San Francisco so the need for comfort foods continues. Wanted to do something a bit different with boneless chicken thighs since I seem to be continually oven-baking them. So tonight decided to saute boneless thighs in a tomato sauce. As sides, I made polenta and steamed zucchini.

Set up all your ingredients;

  • thinly sliced onion (approx 1/3 cup)
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic (vary per your preference)
  • package of boneless chicken thighs (clean and cut to more manageable sized pieces) [approx 6 or little over a pound]
  • can of tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN and if they are whole cut them up)
  • 2 tablespoon red wine
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Took out my cast iron pot, and heated approx 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. When it was slightly smoking, tossed in onion and garlic. Let those cook for about three min, until they just started to brown, then pushed to the side and gradually added pieces of boneless chicken thighs to brown.

You want to do this slowly to keep the heat high enough to brown, so added a few pieces, brown on one side, turn over, move the onions/garlic to cover and add more chicken. Do this until all the chicken has been added and turned over. Now add the red wine, salt, pepper and oregano; scrap the brown bits off the pan a bit and then add the tomatoes. Let this all simmer for approximately 25 min.

Polenta - a cornmeal mush really - becomes a rich, creamy side dish with a bit of butter and cheese added. I set up the zucchini (approximately three) in a steamer and then start on the polenta. In a heavy pan boil 3 1/4 cups of water. As it starts boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt and turn the burner to medium low heat so that the water is just simmering. Add one cup of coarse-grained cornmeal in a fine stream - so that you can really almost see eat grain hitting the water - stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring while adding all the polenta and then for the next 10 minutes. (Remember in the last five minutes turn on the burner under the zucchini.) The polenta is done when it tears away from the sides of the pot as you stir. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

This made four servings so increase as needed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dinner Club - Rendang

Jennie gave me access to post our Dinner Club meals here a long time ago, but I just remembered about it. Luckily, we just had a Dinner Club, so here's my first posting. This is not an Everday Good Eat - Dinner Club meals are usually time-consuming and labor intensive, which is why we team up for cooking. But they are always delicious and fun, and ususally from a particular country or region of the world! Karen and I decided to try to make Rendang, a Singaporean coconut beef stew. Spicy, too!

We tripled the recipe below, which fed 11 with leftovers (we were told this tastes better the next day or the next week, even!). I'll write the recipe as it is in my friend, Weelit's, recipe book and put our substitutions next to it.

570 g (20 oz.) coconut, white WE USED FROZEN, SHREDDED
605 g (21 oz.) beef brisket or topside WE USED TOP ROUND

1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp tamarind, remove seeds WE USED PASTE

30 g (1 oz) ginger
1 stalk lemon grass
2 thin slices galangal
2 cloves garlic
2 tblsp fried coconut

1-1 1/2 tsp palm sugar WE JUST USED REGULAR SUGAR
1 level tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dark soya sauce WE ASSUMED THIS WAS SOY SAUCE

170-225 ml (6-8 fl oz.) boiling water


Dry-fry 115 g of the cocnut till dark brown. Cool. (You'll need an extra 2 tblsp later. We forgot it and just added it fresh. I think it was ok).

Season beef with first 4 ingredients and coconut and leave for 2 hours.

Grind the third set of ingredients (from shallots to 2 tblsp coconut) to a fine paste. A food processor is VERY useful at this point. I have no idea how else it could have ever been done!

Squeeze remaining coconut for milk and set aside. Set aside. Add 225 ml water and squeeze for more milk. Set aside. (WE TOTALLY SKIPPED THIS)

Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the oil and water, in a large saucepan. Add watery milk and bring to a boil. Add meat and boil, uncovered, over moderately high heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Add coconut milk and stir well. Reduce heat, cover pan and cook for 3/4 - 1 hour til gravy mixture turns oily and fragrant.


We also didn't add all of the paste mixture, because we were afraid it would be too spicy. But we kept it and think it will make a great starter for a chicken dish or something. Smells sooo good!

Dinner was the Rendang served over rice, a jicama and papaya salad and broiled gailan (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce. If you're looking for a challenge, this one was delicious!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sausage, Shallot & Spinach Pizza

Another quick dinner can be fresh pizza - you can purchase dough pre-made and just add toppings. Set 1 package pre-made pizza dough (used garlic & herb version from Trader Joe's) out for 20 min as you gather your ingredients. Set the oven to 450 degrees.

In a skillet, cook 2 silcilian sausages (with casings removed) as the meat browns, add one, small, thinly sliced shallot. Spread your dough out on a lightly floured surface and when it is stretched out to the size and shape you want. Cover the dough with about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, add the sausage and shallot evenly on top. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh spinach on top and finally put 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.

Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and a bit browned.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Variation on Quick Vegie Soup

This is a variation to my inital posting - Quick Vegetable Soup.

To start, rough cut all your vegetables - they don't have to be pretty because you will be pureeing them all. (I wash the carrots, zucchini and potatoes with vegetable wash but do not peel anything.) Use the following amounts for a vegetables will produce roughly 10 cups of soup;
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3 medium-sized carrots with skin
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1.5 cups of fresh spinach
  • 5-6 medium-to-large baby potatoes with skin

In a larger, deep-sided pot heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute all the vegetables for about 5 minutes - stirring intermittently. Then add 1 quart of broth - I tend to use vegetable but chicken is also good. You want the liquid to just cover the vegetables so you might have to add another cup or so of water. Cook over medium to low heat until the carrots and potatoes are soft - about 20 minutes.

Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the stove (or to a cool burner). The fastest and least messy way to puree the soup it to use an immersion hand blender. However, if you only have a traditional blender you will have to puree in batches. I suggest using a slotted spoon to scoop out vegetables and using only a bit of your broth - this will minimize the danger of the lid of your blender "popping" off with the pressure from the heat. You might even consider letting the soup cool a bit before pureeing in a traditional blender.

When you have pureed the soup, salt and pepper to taste. If you want the consistency to be a bit thinner simply add more broth or water.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Here is a good and tasty Granola recipe adapted from Jane Brody.


1/4 cup butter or extra virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup of honey

3 cups of oats

1 cup of shredded of flaked unsweetened coconut

1 cup of untoasted sunflower seeds

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup of wheat germ

2/3 cup of dried fruit

Melt the butter or oil and honey together.

Mix everything together Except the wheat germ and dried fruit and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes stirring several times. Add the wheat germ and bake about ten more minutes until golden.

This is the recipe from Jane Brody. I change it a little as I like to add nuts too, and I use dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots and some ground up crystallized ginger.

I have also made it with a multigrained oatmeal style cereal. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fennel and Apple Salad

This recipe is a collaboration of my mother and her good friend, Diane. It is a light and refreshing change to your everyday salad

2 fennel roots
2 green apples
1/2 cup chopped mint
2-3 TBLS lemon juice

drizzle of olive oil

Cut fennel roots in half, cut out the heart, then slice as thinly as you can. Quarter each apple, cut out the core, peel and then slice thinly. Layer the fennel and apple as equivalently as possible, toss with lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkle chopped mint on top. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper for a bit of taste.

Optional: if you have lemon infused olive oil you won't need the lemon juice.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brown Rice & Lentil Salad

This is a recipe that I made off the cuff this weekend to take to a BBQ and it was a good complement to burgers.

I pre-cooked 4 cups brown, basmati rice (or any type of long grain) in my rice cooker. If you refrigerate it just put it in a bowl and break it up so there are no rice clumps.

Then I cooked 1 cup of dry lentils in enough water to cover them and added a bay leaf and clove of garlic. I cooked until they were soft enough to bite into without any crunch and had to add water periodically so they didn't burn. (You can purchase pre-cooked lentils at Trader Joe's that would work perfectly here.) I didn't end up using all the lentils that I cooked - I used approximately 1.5 cups of cooked lentils.

A few hours before I wanted to serve the salad, I added a medium-sized onion minced; approx 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegarette (Melanie's One Cup Salad Dressing); 2 TBLS of salt and 1 TBLS of pepper (add more or less to taste). Seasonings are mostly to allow the rice and lentils to grab some flavor. You might have to add more of each when you add all the final ingredients.

Before you serve, add the following; two bell peppers, minced; 1 cup chopped italian parsley. (For color I added a yellow and orange to contrast with the browns of the rice and lentils however, they are also a bit sweeter tasting than a green bell pepper.) Mix it all together and taste for proper seasoning - add more as needed.

Options: if you don't have the vinegarette made you can just use 1 part olive oil, 1/2 part balsamic vinegar and touch of dijon mustard. Also, I think this needed some scallions to add more kick and boost the greenery.

Monday, February 16, 2009

fast and delicious guilty pleasure

This is a great trick for a quick gourmet shoestring potato fix without the pain.
Buy organic frozen shoestring potatoes. The Whole Foods 365 brand costs about $1.99 a bag, and with no junky additives is perfect. Now preheat you oven to 400 degrees, and place a cookie sheet inside it to preheat. Here's the trick, take the frozen potatoes and toss them in a bowl with about 2 tsp olive or a great flavored oil you may have and some seasoning ( garlic powder, smoked paprika, pepper, chili powder are some suggestions). Now pop onto that preheated pan and bake until crisp.
The difference is a very homemade flavorful potato worth the calories vs. a mediocre oven fry.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quick and Tasty Pork Tenderloin

I used to love pork chops, but these days they are so tough that I end up using a pork tenderloin. It cooks in about 30 minutes, and you can add a lot of flavor with a simple rub. Here is what I did last night.

I used a small tenderloin and I rubbed it with a mixture of chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and horseradish, then let it sit at room temperature while I got everything else ready. Thinly slice some onions or leeks and saute them in a little olive oil. I used some sliced fresh fennel here too, nice but not necessary. When the vegetables are soft and pale golden, scrape the chopped garlic off the roast and to the pan stirring for a minute or less. Put everything into the pan you are using for the roast, preheat oven to 400, wipe out the saute pan and brown the pork loin. When the meat is browned put it on top of the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with some white wine and pour it over the roast, then pour about 1/2 cup of apple juice over everything and pop it into the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, less if it's tiny. You want the apple juice reduced to a syrup, and the pork still with a tinge of pink to it.

This is good with mashed or roast potatoes. If you are roasting the potatoes, preheat your pan while you preheat the oven. Use baking potatoes cut into quarters or sixths and start them in the microwave. Cook in the wave for about 4 minutes then take your pan out of the oven, add olive oil and the potatoes (watch out for spattering). Salt and pepper them and then roast them until crisp and golden.

This tastes good with some spinach, and apple sauce on the side is a must.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Comfort Food Meal

Oven baked chicken thighs, acorn squash and risotto - a soul warming dinner that can be accomplished in under forty minutes. The risotto is done in a pressure cooker which makes this easy and quick; a perfect solution for a weeknight.

Set the over to 400 degrees, cut the acorn squash in half, spoon out the seeds and place cut side down in 1/4 inch of water.
Bake for 35 minutes.

While this is baking you can set up the chicken thighs. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with olive or canola oil. Whisk 1-2 egg(s) with a bit of water, rinse the thighs and soak in the egg wash. For four chicken thighs, use 3/4 cup of bread crumbs, 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of tarragon. Remove the thighs one at a time and coat with the bread crumb mixture. Place in the oven when the squash has approximately 15 min remaining - turning once.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a pressure cooker and saute half an onion that has been minced. Cook for approximately five minutes without letting the onion brown. Add one cup of arborio rice and saute until lightly browned. Add 2 1/4 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of frozen peas. Cover and let the pressure build, cook for 7 min. turn off the heat and let the pressure off. Once the pressure cooker can be opened, add and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the risotto is cooking, the squash should be ready. Remove the water, cut each half to again and brush with a glaze; 1 teaspoon of melted butter with 1 tablespoon of cherry sauce (or marmalade). Place under a broiler for five minutes until nicely browned.


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