Monday, September 13, 2010

Please change your bookmarks to check me out over at me and Adam's joint venture, Brew England! Our blog reviewing beers, breweries, brew pubs as well as beer related recipes, party ideas and all around good times.

Friday, August 13, 2010

African Coconut Curry Soup with Chickpeas

I have been thinking about fall a lot lately.

The break in humidity around here has ushered in a cooler, brisker summer and has me thinking about caramel apples and orangey-red leaves and pumpkins and endless good hair days.

Sigh. I love me some fall.

Which is partially why I found myself yesterday trolling for soup recipes. A still summery soup that had a hint of fall in it. Something spicy and smooth that takes full advantage of fresh vegetables.

Enter one African Coconut Curry Soup with Chickpeas

For one thing, I love me some curry. For another, I had everything at home except the coconut milk and jalapeno which I popped out on my lunch break to purchase. The prep work is easy enough, just cook the rice, chop the veg and get psyched.

In my case there was some mental prep involved as I faced my nemesis, the mighty jalapeno. Let us not forget the incident of 2008 in which I basically suffered third degree burns and temporary blindness from this innocent looking little pepper. So maybe I had a bit if PPTSD (pepper post traumatic stress disorder). But I decided 2 years was enough time to gain some perspective and give it another try.

But not without the proper armor, of course.

In any case, the soup was a success of epic proportions. I did up the curry to about 2 tbsp because I love curry but other than that I thought the proportions of everything were perfection.

And so easy to go from this

to this

which I let simmer until Adam came home from class and we enjoyed it with some fresh pita bread.

Doesn't it look festive?

It was spicy and smooth. It was bright and bold. It was delicious!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spicy Szechuan Eggplant

In addition to No Cucumber Left Behind and the not yet mentioned Tomato Mania of 2010, we are also involved in the Eggplant Explosion up in here this summer. As I have mentioned previously, Adam and I signed up for a CSA share at the beginning of the summer and so every Friday we receive a burgeoning bevy of delicious summer produce.

I am somewhat relieved to admit we made it through the Beet Bonanza portion of the summer, wherein we struggled to use the beets as fast as we received them. Pickled. Roasted. Boiled. Grated Raw. What is up? I was not too sad to see those phase out as July turned to August and for radishes and broccoli to phase in.

Ever abundant no matter the date is Zucchini, Squash and the glorious Aubergine (Eggplant! But it's so much more fun to say aubergine, no?). The Zucchini and Squash I have down. Sauteed with a little salt and pepper. Grilled. Stuffed. I made enough Zucchini bread to feed a small nation this weekend and some to die for Squash Fritters (recipe posted earlier this week).

But the Eggplant I have had to do some research on. I did a lovely Eggplant Parm a few weeks ago. And of course given my new hookup for cheap tahini (Locals, the Iraqi food store across from KFC on Hancock in Quincy has super cheap Middle Eastern food including to die for fresh Pitas!) Baba Ghanouj is in the mix as well. But to be honest I haven't cooked Eggplant that often so I find myself trolling for recipes.

I was sure of a few things. I didn't want to bread it and I wanted it to be SPICY. Enter one Spicy Szechuan Eggplant Recipe from I followed the recipe to the tee, except I switched out the ground beef for yours and my favorite fake meat Gimme Lean! And instead of chili sauce I used some Thai Chili Paste I had in the fridge. Because you know you always end up with things like because you buy a 6 oz jar to use in a recipe....and the recipe only calls for 1/2 a teaspoon so you have it in your fridge FOREVER. I am trying to use that shiz up.

Anyway what can I say about this dish? Its spicy but not TOO spicy. It's texturally stimulating between the spongy eggplant and ground (faux) beef and shrimp. It's visually delightful. I like that the sauce is spicy and rich but somehow light enough that it doesnt mask the flavors of the induvidual ingredients. And you know what if you dont want to use the protein I used, use what you like! Chicken would be lovely. I'm sure tofu would be delightful. Just don't nix the eggplant since it really is the star of this dish!

I also want to mention that whenever I cook Szechuan I think of that scene in Grumpy Old Men when Ann Margaret breaks into Jack Lemmon's house to make him dinner and when he is like what the hell? She informs him "I'm cooking Szechuan" as she coquettishly adds spicy red chiles to her pan.

But maybe that's just me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Buffalo Tofu Tenders

Since Adam and I are moving soon, I am on a mission to use up all the "stuff" we have accumulated food-wise, before we go. You know the "stuff" I mean. Condiments used only once. A forgotten marinade. That tabouleh kit in the cabinet. That Siracha you bought on a whim. Items I have put off using but whose time has come.

On Sunday night I was thinking about our dinners for the week when I decided tofu would be in order for Monday. So I set about pressing it so it would be ready to prepare the next day. I recently learned about pressing tofu from Jenny and her boyfriend Eric and it has made a world of difference in my tofu eating life. My new method is to buy extra firm tofu, wrap it in paper towel and place it in a strainer over a large pot. Then I place small plate on the tofu and balance 4 large cans on the plate. I let it sit there for about 3-4 hours. You would be amazed how much water comes out of a little tofu steak! And all that water you press out makes the tofu that much more firm, more meat-like in texture and more able to get crispy (yum!) when cooked.

So as the tofu was pressing I was like, what to do with this? A stirfry? Maybe grill it and toss it on a salad? I peered into the fridge, gazing at at the contents of the door when my eyes fell upon this:

A ha! Now things are getting interesting. I thought it would be fun to try and buffalo some tofu and so with that, Buffalo Tofu with Cucumber Dipping Sauce was born.

Why cucumber dipping sauce? Because I have approximately on million cucumbers in my crisper and I will be damned if any of them are going to waste. Plus, the cooling effects of a cuke would pair lovely with the buffalo heat! I also made a lovely and refreshing corn and cucumber salad which complimented it beautifully (and also helped in my No Cucumber Left Behind endeavor)

SO here is the super easy, super delicious recipe. You will want to start it the night before, then when you come home from work the next day it's really easy to throw together. If you love buffalo wings, you will love these.

Buffalo Tofu Tenders
1 package of extra firm tofu, pressed and drained and cut into fingerlings
1/4 cup Ken's Buffalo marinade (or you could make your own of course) + 2 tbsp
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil

Cucumber Dipping Sauce
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 tbsp Smart Balance mayo
1/2 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cucumber and Corn Salad
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
Kernels from 2 ears of roasted/cooked corn
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup vinegar (whichever kind you like, I used rice wine)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. Mix well, cover tightly and chill for several hours/overnight.

Next, place your pressed and sliced tofu into a plastic bag with the marinage. Make sure the tofu is fully covered and chill for at least 24 hours.

The next day when you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350.

Place the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Meanwhile mix the flour and spices. Dredge each tofu fingerling in the flour, ensuring it's well coated. Cook in the oiled pan about 2-3 minutes a side until crisp then remove from heat. Place the buffalo tenders in a shallow pan (I used a pie plate) and brush the remaining 2 tbsp marinade over them. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes.

While they are baking combine all the indredients for the sauce in the blender. Blend until smooth.

A delicious, meat free summery meal!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes and Squash Fritters

Dinner last night.

Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes and Squash Fritters.

Both of these recipes were delicious and easy to prepare. The only modifications I made were to add chopped garlic and pepper to the fritters and I used fresh breadcrumbs with the tomatoes (threw a couple of sandwich thins in the food processor).

I havent had the time this summer to properly update this blog which is a shame given all the delicious vegetarian recipes I have come across and uses for fresh summer produce BUT I figure I can at least throw a picture up and a link to recipes.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

If you love buffalo wings with blue cheese this is it in burger form. A great little bite and a hit with all ages! It comes together really easily and its always nice at a cookout to have something in the fridge that you can just throw in the oven for when food is running low.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

1 lb ground chicken
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
1/8 cup buffalo marinade
½ a medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Form into small patties (about 2 inches across). Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper and chill for at least one hour.

Cook at 350 for 25 minutes.

Serve on dinner rolls with a toothpick to secure.

Makes about 15 sliders!

Absolutely delicious!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spaghetti with Spring Spinach and Tomato Sauce

I love the taste of home made spaghetti sauce. Once you make it for yourself, you never want to go back to a jar! But it's tough on a weeknight. You're home from work. Would love some fresh sauce for your spaghetti but there is none in your freezer and you don't have the 8 hours neccesary to throw together the perfect all day long simmered sauce.

This is the perfect dish for nights when you don't feel like putting a ton of effort into dinner but still want that delicious fresh homemade sauce taste. And for when you want to showcase some perfect nearly summer vegetables like tomatoes and spinach! Even better, the ingredients are totally inexpensive. The comsumate low maintenance meal!

Spaghetti with Spring Spinach and Tomato Sauce
2 servings, 5 pts each
1 lb roma tomatoes, roughly chopped (i like to cut them into 1/2 inch wheels and cut each wheel into 4ths)
2 cups spring spinach, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 big pinch Herbs de Provence
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2 servings cooked whole wheat spaghetti
4 small slices of french bread

Heat a large shallow pan over medium heat with the olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant - 1 minute or so.

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 001

Add tomatoes and cook for about five minutes.

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 003

Then add the spinach,

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 004

and continue to cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 005

Then reduce to low, sprinkle in herbs and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 minutes.

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 006

As it cooks down it smells wonderful and as the liquid escapes the vegetables it takes on a chuncky sauce texture that is divine over pasta!

Before serving splash on some balsamic and a sprinkling of parsley to brighten up the flavor

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 008

Serve over the whole wheat spaghetti and with two small slices of french bread.

12-26-10 - FRIDAY 011