Thursday, July 28, 2011

Agave-lime grilled tofu with asian slaw and mashed sweet potatoes

Now I have a bookshelf overflowing with cookbooks, and I have a relationship with them much like a young child would have with their toys, or a teenager with their fashions.  When I get a cookbook, I tend to go back to it multiple times per week, skipping complicated recipes, and using it's recipes over and over (see previous posts sources, i.e. my mark bittman obsession).  Then, when a new toy or piece of clothing comes along, I tend to forget about the cookbook I was so recently distracted by.

I got Tal Ronnen's cookbook recently from the hubs when the first round of Border's closed and never really made anything out of it because the recipes seemed so complicated.  Many of them also needed unique ingredients that are used often in vegan cooking but no one else would really ever have in their pantry/fridge.  I decided to give it a new try the other week after browsing through it one evening (yes, I read cookbooks for pleasure and during down time). 

I just got a few new cookbooks with this second, sad round of Border's closing for good.  It is a sad day that our date night place is closing ;(  Alas, Barnes and Nobles will now likely be our relaxing date night place.  Though I must admit that the hubs and I probably contributed to the downfall of our bookstore.  We would spend date nights there, buy a coffee, grab a stack of books/magazines to parouse, and then put them back.  If a book struck our fancy, we would buy it (if we had a coupon), or go to Amazon to buy it (more often the case).  Byebye borders, we will miss you on Friday nights! 

Back to Tal and his amazing tofu. This recipe was one of the easiest in the cookbook but still a bit complicated with lots of steps.  The cookbook is not set up as I would prefer, and the table of contents for each section is difficult on the eyes.  And finally, my last complaint, there is a lot of faux meat being used in here...not my cup of tea all the time.  But whoa, was this recipe tasty.  The adobo mashed sweet potatoes: yum.  The asian mariande for the tofu: divine. 

Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potato

1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 12 slices
1/4 c agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 c soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs thyme
1 t pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 1/2 T brown sugar

3 T rice wine vinegar
1 t agave nectar
1/2 t salt
2 T lime juice
1 t soy sauce
1/2 mild flavored oil (i used olive because it was what i had)
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 diakon radish, julienned
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 scallion, julienned
1/2 t sesame seeds

sweet potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c cashew cream (see below)
2 T earth balance (vegan margarine)
1 canned chipolte pepper, seeded and minced
salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients for the tofu and marinate it for at least 2 hours. 

Tal's recipe says to bake the tofu here, I pan fryed it on high heat until brown on both sides, probably 5-7 minutes each side.   Pour the remainder of the marinade into a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce until syrupy. 

For the slaw, prep the veggies and in a seperate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients except for the oil.  Once mixed, slowly add the oil while whisking until emuslified. 

For the sweet potatoes, cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until soft but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain and put the sweet potatoes in a bowl to mix with the remainder of ingredients. Whip with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. 

To put together, place 1/4 of the mashed potatoes on a plate, top with a 1/4 of the slaw, and 1/4 of the tofu.  Drizzle some of the marinade on top.  Enjoy!

cashew cream: (prep night before)
2 c whole, raw cashews rinsed well under cold water

Put cashews in a bowl and cover with water to rest in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, drain and rinse the cashews.  Put cashews in a blender and just cover the nuts with water.  Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth.  If your blender is not high-powered, run the cream through a fine mesh sieve.  This recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of get creative with the rest!  I added it to some marinara sauce....yummy. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu planning and trying new recipes

The last two weeks at the farm have yielded a nice variety of veggies, not too much of anything, and no preserving required.  I have heard a few people say they have a hard time using up the last bit of veggies each week, often leaving a few scraps here and there.

I must confess that I an often guilty of the same thing, not preserving that half a head of cabbage, and not using it either.  That half a head of cabbage went into the compost yesterday, wilted, dry, and browning on the edges.  Such a thing is sad, especially with a vegetable that keeps so long.  My main goal each week is to menu plan after getting home from the farm each week, listing the veggies we received, and place them under each meal heading so I know I hit every one. 

My menu plan is generally a Saturday to Friday since I tend to grocery shop Saturday mornings.  I leave it loose so that I can make what I feel like that evening, creating easy meals for nights we have things to do.  I also try to use the veggies that spoil easily first, leaving the longer lasting ones to the end of the week.  Last week it looked Mexican heavy, like this:

Black Bean tacos and slaw
Gazpacho and tempeh with corn tortillas and cheese
Grilled Mexican Pizza and salad
Grilled sweet potatoes and black bean burgers
Beet Salad and Squash Pizza
Tofu with Slaw and Mashed Adobo Sweet Potatoes
Chocolate zucchini cookies
Lemon Fennel Sorbet

The tofu and sweet potatoes was a recipe from Tal Ronnen's cookbook, "The Conscious Cook", post to follow shortly ;)

I made pizza dough twice (easy as long as you plan ahead at least an hour), and some lovely cookies.  We didn't have beet salad though as I may have forgot about them in the oven (I did turn the oven off though), and they got a bit moldy.  And we also didn't get to the black bean burgers, Thursday night we had a busy evening that ended up being a Pei Wei evening.  Throw in a lentil salad and there was our week.  We've been eating out a bit too much since getting back from vacation, I have yet to get back into my groove (note that I have only worked out twice since getting back from vacation: fail). 

This week, we got another host of veggies from the farm. 

carrots, beets, eggplant, squash, celery, onion, tomato, strawberries, cantaloupe, purple basil

On the menu for this week:

sweet potatoes with lime vinaigrette and black bean burgers
Asian noodle salad (using tofu, eggplant, carrots, and squash)
huevos y frijoles
lentil daal
potato salad and grilled sausage
beet and white bean salad
heirloom tomato soup, fresh baked baguette and brie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Escarole Mexican Pizza- Do Not Try This at Home

Escarole does not go well on top of Mexican pizza.  Just in case you didn't know that already. 

I made a Mexican pizza last night, topped it with some shredded zucchini (putting that stuff everywhere!), and then must not have grabbed the right head of green stuff out of the fridge, because boy, was that pizza bitter!  Luckily, it was easily saved by simply removing the greenery.

On a separate note, apparently my pup, who does not eat vegetables, has discovered a new affinity for green cherry tomatoes from the vine.  He came in with a yellow head earlier this week, and then the hubs caught him in the act yesterday morning.  Silly dog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sushi Bowl

Now, I have never had sushi, well, real sushi.  I have gotten the pre-made sushi from Trader Joes, and it is decent.  From what I have heard, their sushi is passable, but nothing like the real thing. 

Well, the other day I was craving sushi.  Where this craving came from I have no idea, especially given the fact that I have never actually had real sushi, and even if I had, it would be the vegetarian kind (given).  I had some ideas in my head about doing sushi without the rolling part, more like a salad or fried rice, and many ingredients on hand.  What luck, I also found a recipe to bounce off of from Vegetarian Times, though I must confess that this bowl needed some punch.  Future attempts will include some crushed nori or other type of seaweed, which will hopefully boost the sushi factor. 

The hubs did not think there was enough wasabi so he put a chunk on the top of the remaining half of his bowl.  Big mistake.  His mouth was on in case you don't know, a tiny bit of wasabi goes a loooooong way. 

I made the rice in my rice cooker with a bit of extra water so that it didn't dry out (my rice cooker tends to lean on the dry side).   And I marinated the tofu in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, then baked it until almost crispy. 

Sushi Bowl

1 c rice cooked according to directions (add a bit of rice vinegar if desired)
6 T soy sauce, divided
2 T sesame oil
1/4 t wasabi (or more to taste)
1 15 oz pkg firm tofu
2 c baby peas
1 c shredded carrot
1 avacado, diced
2 T pickled ginger, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Mix 4 T soy sauce and sesame oil.  Press tofu for at least 10 minutes, then slice into 8-16 pieces and place in a shallow dish.  Pour soy sauce over tofu and let marinate while you prepare the remainder of ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice according to directions (the rice cooker is your friend).  Prep vegetables and any other vegetables you desire. 

Place slices of tofu into the oven and bake until crispy on the outside, about 30 minutes. Once completed, cut into little cubes.

Whisk together soy sauce, 1 T water, 1 T sesame oil, and wasabi.  Mix together the sauce you just made, veggies, and tofu, then serve!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I know, I know, enough with the Bittman recipes, but every one (other than the nut cream sauce which was my fault) has been so good and generally unique that I can't help but turn to it with each new harvest.  With the start of the abundance of zucchini we get from the farm, I needed something to do with it all.  I think I have made 5 loaves so far, and will probably make another one tonight.

I remember growing up making my grandmother's recipe for zucchini bread with bran cereal.  My mom and I would heat it up in the microwave and put a little slab of butter on top.  A loaf wouldn't last very long, and even my vegetable-picky dad would gobble it up. 

This bread, I hesitantly say, is a bit better than my grandmothers, and a bit cheaper to make (who has bran cereal just hanging out in their pantry regularly?). 

Zucchini Bread

4 T cold butter, cut into bits
2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
3/4 c fruit juice (oj or apple) or milk
1 T grated orange zest
1 egg
1 c raw, shredded zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

Stir dry ingredients together, then cut into the flour mixture (can use a food processor or stand mixer) until pieces are no larger than a pea. 

Beat together zest, juice, and egg and mix into dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Fold in zucchini and pour into bread pan.  Bake for about one hour and cool.

A Classic Stand-by and a Fail

Last week I came across Bittman's nut cream sauce with arugula and loved the thought of a creamy, nutty sauce over noodles.  And what better to go with it than zucchini parmesan, which I was totally in the mood for. 

Well, my sauce came out looking like this:
It broke somewhere along the way, not sure what the specific cause was though.  I may have kept it on the heat for too long, or added the cream a bit too quickly.  I was super disappointed, there is little more disheartening in the kitchen than a recipe gone wrong. 

Luckily, I still had the zucchini parm, noodles, and spaghetti sauce in the cupboard.  Thank goodness, meal salvaged.