Tuesday, April 27, 2010

roasted fingerling potatoes with saffron breadcrumbs

i certainly don't need to convince you that roasted potatoes are a fantastic food - crunchy and creamy and all around delicious they don't really need much gussying up. but when you want to get fancy with them what better way than to add some crunchy goodness laced with saffron to the mix? long ago erin and i found mystery saffron in our cabinet and for awhile there i think we saffron-ed just about everything. i mean, free saffron! that's as exciting as finding money in your pocket! sadly i think that was the last time i used the stuff cause those little threads are expensive.* but on sunday i broke down using the "we're making a fun sunday dinner" as the excuse...and i'm glad i did cause the potatoes were awesome and now i get to make other fun saffron things. this recipe comes from the same article as the soft tofu recipe and was equally delicious. i think i maybe went a little light on the saffron ("a pinch" is so imprecise) but they were still great.....we were scooping up the last of the crunchy breadcrumbs.

roasted fingerling potatoes with saffron breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ghee (or substitute olive oil, unsalted butter, or a combination of the two)
1 pound fingerling potatoes
kosher salt, to taste
fresh black pepper, to taste
half a slice of stale bread or english muffin (makes about 1/2 cup crumbs)
pinch of saffron threads

preheat the oven to 375°. Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan that will hold all the potatoes without excessive crowding. When the oil is very hot, add the potatoes, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until browning barely starts.

meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs. tear up half a slice of stale bread (english muffins work surprisingly well) and place the pieces in a coffee grinder, along with the saffron threads. process until well mixed, shaking the grinder a bit as you go.

add the breadcrumbs to the potatoes, stir well, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

transfer pan to oven, and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. adjust for salt, and serve hot.

Monday, April 26, 2010

soft tofu with ginger and peppers

oh, soft tofu where have you been all my life? why did i dismiss you as the useless texture; not as dinner worthy as extra-firm and lesser than silken for baking? shame on me. the introduction into dinner was actually made a couple of weeks ago when kris brainstormed a sort of grilled cheese style sandwich with soft tofu standing in for the cheese (squishy, very near melty, and absolutely delicious). then last week kris (so i guess he's the one to thank for this epiphany) found this article on sfgate (the article is really interesting and inspiring...i, too, can't wait to seek out various ethnic grocery stores and buy all kinds of unfamiliar ingredients to play with. it also made me want to spend silly amounts of money on salt). we decided to try out a couple of the recipes, one of them being a sort of soft tofu bowl. our ethnic shopping adventure hasn't come soon enough so we made some substitutions (which i've noted in the recipe) but the dish was amazing. when i was assembling it i felt like i was making an ice cream sundae with the soft scoop of tofu and various toppings. it got us thinking that you could really take this idea in any direction....and i think we'll start our experimenting soon. this is perfect as a component of a weekday dinner as it comes together super fast. let me know if you try out different toppings or have any yummy suggestions!

very soft tofu with young ginger and sweet peppers

1 teaspoon unsalted butter (margarine)
1 teaspoon fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced mini sweet peppers (about 3 each), preferably a mixture of red, yellow, and orange (we didn't have sweet peppers so we used an anaheim and red bell)
2 tablespoons young ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks (we just used regular ginger)
1 teaspoon orange marmalade
2 cups soft tofu, drained slightly in a sieve
Tangerine salt, or any high-quality salt (used regular, slightly fancy, salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
Drizzle of your best olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped chives

heat the margarine and oil in a small skillet over medium heat, then add the peppers and ginger. Mix well and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture starts to brown slightly. add the marmalade, mix well, and turn off the heat.

drain any liquid from the tofu, then spoon 1/2 cup of tofu into four small bowls. Dust with salt and pepper. drizzle with good olive oil. top with the pepper-ginger mixture and the chives.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

buddha bowl

this yummy rice bowl comes from refresh, a cookbook from a vegetarian restaurant in toronto that looks quite fantastic. it's a gorgeous book filled with bright photos that will make you want to make every single recipe. we decided to break it in for a simple weeknight dinner.

the dish is made up of marinated tofu, cucumber, tomato, cilanto and bean sprouts (assuming yours don't smell funky like ours and actually make it into the bowl) piled atop brown basmati rice and drizzled, or drenched, in peanut sauce. speaking of the peanut sauce i bet there is one part of the recipe that's going to make you look twice, say "what!?!?" well yes, there is in fact one and a half CUPS of peanut butter in there. that's nearly a whole jar. needless to say if you make the whole recipe you will have a ton of sauce so cut it in half if you wish. however, it will keep in the fridge for a week and may i suggest using the extra to make lettuce wraps? i loved the flavor of the sauce, it was really lemony which gave it a lighter, i'm-not-eating-an-entire-jar-of-peanut-butter feel and complimented the peanut butter very nicely.

one thing i liked about this recipe is that all the vegetables and the tofu are raw so the only thing to cook is the rice. to make this whole creation here's what you do.

first, start your rice and mix up this marinade. cut up a block of tofu into bite sized pieces and let them marinate for an hour.

tofu marinade
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup tamari/soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil (i used canola)

next make your peanut sauce. whisk everything together in a bowl then heat over low heat until warm. we used less water than the 2 cups listed so add a cup to start and then thin it out to your desired consistency.

peanut sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups natural smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup lemon juice
5 tablespoons tamari/soy sauce
2 tablespoons paprika
2 cups vegetable stock or water
cayenne pepper to taste

when everything is ready scoop some rice into a bowl and top with tofu. cover in peanut sauce and top with cilantro, sliced cucumber and a tomato (half moon shapes are nice), bean sprouts and a lemon wedge.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

edamame asparagus salad

this idea may or may not have come to me from the pages of glamour magazine. yeah so what, i thought it was fantastic! plus kris and i added a lil something to it so i'm taking the credit from here on. you could call it a salad or maybe just a cold vegetable side dish but either way i found that it was a delicious, fresh tasting, quick and easy alternative to the regular side salad i make a nice way to use now in-season asparagus. i usually broil asparagus but when it's this fresh i feel that just slightly cooking it and leaving a crunch does it more justice. also, as you'll see below, my beloved pea shoots are back! though this time in baby form. i think it would be equally delicious with watercress or arugula tossed in instead.

edamame and asparagus salad
1 cup asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup shelled edamame
handful baby pea shoots
small handful fresh mint, finely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

bring a pot of water to a boil. add frozen edamame, after a minute add asparagus pieces and cook for three minutes more until edamame and asparagus are cooked but still have a bite. drain and run under cold water. toss in a bowl with pea shoots, mint, a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. ta dah!