Monday, July 30, 2007

a tofu dinner

It's important to be able to whip up a quick meal with on-hand ingredients. Tofu is great, easily stored, versatile, high in protein, and requires little (if any) cooking. YOU DON'T NEED TO BE VEGETARIAN TO ENJOY TOFU!

I went for an oriental flavor. Having a number of pre-made sauces is also an essential for rich flavors on a short notice.

- Fry 1/3 block extra-firm tofu in 2 T vegetable oil, some soy sauce, a little sesame oil (a kitchen essential), rice wine vinegar.
- Add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger about a minute before clearing out the pan.
- Add 1 medium chopped onion with a tablespoon of Sweet and Spicy Mandarin Orange cooking sauce (from Trader Joe).

Maybe add chopped green onion, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tempeh, peas, baby corn, what-have-you.
Serve with chili pepper mix, brown rice, steamed broccoli, pan fried udon/ramen noodles.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

pork chops: a craving

Ever have a hankering for some pig? Maybe it was the bacon I'd eaten for breakfast that started it all, maybe just a primitive urge, but by the time I was ready for dinner I was ready for pork chops.

- mix 2 tablespoons dijon, 2 cloves minced garlic, tablespoon red wine vinegar, cayenne.
put some of that on 2 scored pork chops and let sit for at least 15 minutes(upwards of expiration date).
- add honey, soy sauce, black pepper (always fresh), tablespoon melty butter, equal amounts bread crumbs and corn meal.
- after dripping chops of excess marinade, cover in crumb mixture.
- saute with butter on medium/high heat, about 3-4 minutes/side

These are great chops! If only there was more fat on the pork, I feel it could have helped the richness and moisture. The dijon base is excellent, especially with the garlic.
But what made these great? onion.

- cut off both ends and remove skin of one medium onion
- score with a deep, radial pattern, as if preparing a bloomin' onion.
- drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne.
- conceal with aluminum foil and bake for 30-45 at 350.

The combination is perfect. Juicy, crisp-breaded pork and falling-off-the-bone onions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

frozen yogurt: experiment 1

Due to limited fridge space I've been unable to store any ice cream base, but luckily frozen yogurt doesn't require any cooking.

- mix 1/2 cup simple syrup (I used it still hot from the stove) with 16oz frozen strawberries. Allow to defrost and mash to your preferred consistency.
- stir in 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Dark powder, which gives a great, deep flavor, and dark, practically black coloring)
- mix 2 cups yogurt (I used low fat, un-flavored)

The preparation was extremely quick and easy and the flavor turned out pretty well. Though I prefer plain yogurt for snacking, it may not be the best match with these flavors (or for frozen yogurt in general, I'll have to find out). Next time I will try vanilla yogurt as the base. Also, maybe some honey instead of syrup and maybe just more sweetener. The texture is nice, and I left in enough large chunks of strawberry to add some variety.

Looking forward to getting back into ice cream, but it the meantime I'll continue with froYo.

sorry about the fuzzy picture

Friday, July 20, 2007

a new age of GELATO

It’s been a week since my new Gelato machine arrived and it’s just produced its first, righteous batch.

- mix 4 egg yolks with 1 cup sugar and slowly mix in 1 cup tempered milk
- bring back to low-medium heat and stir frequently until it coats the spoonula ( if kept on the heat too long custard will start separating…shame)
- after sitting to near room temp, mix in 1.5 cups cream
- chill throughout the day or overnight
- 1 cup frozen raspberries (frozen is more consistent quality, and cheaper than fresh…but, if in season fresh, local is always preferred. Also, buy fresh berries in bulk and freeze them for off-season recipes)
- add 1/4 cup water and simmer/boil until reduced
- chill
- 1 cup semisweet chips and 1/2 cup cream
- will become hard in fridge. Bring back to soft consistency by sitting out or in microwave for 30 seconds.

mix Base, Raspberry, Chocolate together in then add to maker
should make about 1/2 gallon

Finished the batch this morning and it’s great. Subtle chocolaty (more can be added) and sweet/tangy raspberry flavor.

Sava's: a State Street Sandwich

I've been heading around to some new restaurants recently. After noticing and browsing the menu of Sava's a few weeks ago, I've looked forward to tasting it out.

The menu, generally consisting of sandwiches (panini, burger, sandwiches, wraps). There were a handful of good choices in each category, forcing a difficult decision.

BLACK FOREST HAM (shaved), BRIE (small, precut pieces), SPINACH (cooked)
**I ordered it with some honey mustard, which proved a good decision.
Served on a grilled Kaiser roll? I think that's what it was.

The ham was good, the brie was not enough, the spinach was way too wet (unnecessary sloppiness), a little too much mustard, good bread. I would have preferred some fresh spinach, maybe lightly sautéed and then tossed with a cranberry walnut vinaigrette...that'd be nice for the flavor and texture, which was too uniformly easy. Also, slightly less generic honey mustard would be sweet.

I'm looking forward to my next visit.

You should go! Support your local restaurants!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

a dinner

Made this dinner a few nights ago for my roommate and I.

- Roast 1 orange pepper (could be red/yellow as well) and chop to varying shapes/sizes.
- Sauté tofu and onion in sesame oil until crisped around the edges.
- Sauté bamboo shoots and garlic with Chinese 5 spice blend. Add ginger toward end.
- Mix together prior three steps, add soy sauce, top with fresh basil.

Serve with brown rice.

The fresh basil and roasted pepper really highlight this meal. Most people don't think of adding basil to Chinese food, but it's great with soy sauce and garlic.

Oh, and for those who don't know how to roast a pepper (in the oven)
- Clean and quarter a pepper.
- I cut off the curled in ends so they stay on the baking sheet and also so there aren't unexposed/uncooked areas.
- Place on a foil lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup) and drizzle with oil (for this recipe, I used sesame)
- Turn oven to broil and place sheet near top.
- Take out sheet when peppers are charred.
- Seal peppers in a plastic bag and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes (the steam in the bag loosens the skin)
- Peal, eat.

a breakfast

I often feel the need for a proper breakfast, but seldom do I allow myself the proper time for its preperation.
Today, I made breakfast.

Pancakes: adapted from The Joy of Cooking
- Mix together 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder.
- Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup milk, 1 egg.
- Mix dry, wet ingredients.
**I also added some ginger powder to the mix (the idea occurred as the jar fell out of the cabinet while reaching for the baking powder). It compliments the sugar and whole wheat very well.
**Makes about 8 pancakes using a 1/4 cup ladle.

Bacon: adapted from a pig
Egg: over easy

Always use pure maple syrup; none of that corn syrup garbage. It may cost more, but that's no excuse.

Monday, July 16, 2007

another quick lunch

Keep a well stocked pantry. Buy a few cans of whatever is on sale, even if you don't have immediate plans to use them.
For this meal, a can of beans and diced tomato are the base of a quick mediterrainean stew.

- Sauté one medium onion with olive oil and salt, adding balsamic vinegar.
- Once onions begin to crisp on the edge, add a clove of garlic and a can of Buttered Beans (drained)
- Season with black pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper and oregano
- Add half can of water and cover for about 5 minutes
- Lightly pulverize with potato masher (there should still be some whole beans intact)
- Add more water if necessary and about half a can of diced tomatoes (drained)
- Before serving, top with chopped, fresh basil, fresh grated parmesan cheese and drizzle lightly with olive oil (and maybe even some more balsamic)

Buttered beans are large

Maybe eat it with a piece of sourdough toast covered in Humboldt Fog (soft ripened goat cheese purchased from Zingerman's)

last Wednsday

Before driving up north for BlissFest, I decided to use my remaining zucchini to make a soup/stew similar to the one below (July 6th).

- Drizzle half Large zucchini and 2 cloves garlic with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cover until tender
- Uncover, mix in and sateé on high heat until crisped a little a handfull brown rice and 1/3 - 1/2 pound tofu, cut into small, thin squares
- Add chicken bouillon and hot water and cover for a while.
- After taking off the heat, mix in a little cream and a couple chopped cherry tomatoes.

**It's been nearly a week since I made this, so I don't quite remember the seasoning. be creative, but selective with herbs/spices. Don't hessitate to use lots of flavors, but don't get carried away and throw in the entire spice cabinet.

Rich and filling!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cafe Japon

Didn't complete any food of note. Ate some chili on brown rice (surprisingly tasty) and...

Tried out the new French-Japanese restaurant, Café Japon (Liberty east of Main, 734-332-6200)
Clean, inviting interior (maybe a bit too much plain, white wall) welcomes patrons with two chilled display cases of croissants, mochi, fruits and other French-Japanese bakery snacks

The menu is straight forward: soups (de Jour and miso), salads, sandwiches (using baguette, baked twice daily on premises), a handful of sushi roll variants (one with chicken looked unique, "Sushi Napoleon"), Japanese dishes, and dessert (the shaved ice with milk and red beans sounds particularly delicious).

There is also an extensive tea menu, specializing in green teas. These come either hot or iced.

I ordered the "Hiyashi Udon: Cold udon noodles served with meat, shrimp, egg and vegetables. This is a good summer dish"
- The meat: ham
- Also: crab salad
- Vegetables: lettuce, cucumber, tomato
It's served with a dipping sauce (what would otherwise be the broth if it were heated) and was really nice, especially for a summer dish. I may have enjoyed it a little more with soba (buckwheat noodles) rather than the udon.

Go and support your local restaurant! There's something for everyone on the menu, and you'll only spend $9-$13.

**pictures of food to come with next visit***

Monday, July 9, 2007

detroit style

Ever have a need (not to be confused with a crave) for detroit style chili?
I've loved Coneys since I can remember and cooking up some chili was the perfect solution for the pound of ground chuck that's been taking up precious freezer space for at least a month.

This was my first attempt. And a valiant attempt. Delicious

The key: patience

I let the beef sit in some cold water in the fridge, then drained and browned it with the onions on low/medium heat.
- 1 pound ground chuck (any cut would work, just don't waste your filet)
- 1/2 medium onion, minced

Seasoned with...lots of spices
- paprika
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- cayenne
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- coarse ground pepper
- ground cumin
- salt

After slow simmering for about 2 hours, add at least half cup water and thickened with whole wheat flour.

I'll probably eat this on a baked potato. Maybe some hash browns

a quick lunch

A bunch of local, fresh yellow wax beans from the farmer's market.

Used half for a quick lunch, the other half I'm saving for dinner...

- yellow wax beans
- 1/3 pound tofu
- garlic
- butter
- fresh thyme
- salt/pepper/red-pepper flakes

Sautéed the beans and tofu in the butter, seasoned, added garlic toward the end.
Sprinkled with chopped thyme before enjoying.

The long, crunchy beans and the smooth tofu pair well together.
Adding other vegetables (onion, red/green pepper, squash) would also be great.

zucchini: part 1: breaded

Picked up a huge (really, really large) zucchini from the farmer's market in Kerrytown (open wed. and sat. year round until 2/3pm).

Ultimately I will make some Zucchini bread, but I need a grater before that dream comes true.

So, devised a quick beer batter and let some slices fry a bit.

- whole wheat flour
- salt
- pepper
- cayenne
- beaten egg
- beer (after mixing the above ingredients, use this to thin it out)

Before battering, season zucchini slices.
I used: salt, pepper, cayenne, zahatar

- fry in hot, shallow olive oil. about 1 minute a side

Turned out better than expected, but need work.

Lemon juice is good with these.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

guacamole = stuff held by green

I've pretty much pinned down guacamole that fits my current needs. It's smooth, zesty, tangy, spicy, good...tasting? yes

1/2 medium tomato, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced/minced (whichever)
(at least) 1/2 jalepeño, diced-minced
half-a-lime juice
handful of cilantro
salt 'n pepper
1 aguacate

served this dolloped on a tostada (that is, per say, assuming tostada is a fried tortilla topped)

my tostada = one whole wheat tortilla crisped in a pan with olive oil
- and warmed with with melted cheese, beans, and rice
- taken from heat, topped with some onion, cilantro, remaining tomato
- eaten with guacamole according to dietary freedom

Friday, July 6, 2007

AC allows me the comfort of soup on a hot day

All in one saucepan...
- sauté in olive oil on low heat: 1 small onion, 3 cloves garlic, at least half a jalapeño
- season with fresh basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, zhatar, crushed red pepper flakes
- add handful of cold, cooked brown rice and turn heat to medium/high for more than 5 minutes
- add 1/3 lb tofu (sliced thin then diced) and 1/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
- after about 3 minutes, mix in 1.5 teaspoons chicken bouillon and stir before adding 1 cup hot water
- cover and simmer maybe 10 minutes
- take off heat, mix in 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

wow, really nice soup. amazing. I rushed to type that quickly before I forgot how it went...deliciously

Served with 2 toasted, buttered slices whole wheat sour dough from Zingerman's

The tofu melts in your mouth with a warm, smooth texture that compliments the rich cream. The herbs and jalapeño complete the flavor.

Takes maybe 30 minutes to make. One saucepan to clean. Plenty of protein and good carbs.

Remember: always make extra-large batches of brown rice and keep extras chilled (saves you 50 minutes of waiting)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

merry freedom

the 4th is festive and delicious.

spent the day BBQ/potluck hopping. wonderful

though i'm not eating refined carbs (ie: dog/berguesa bun), there was plenty of meat, veggies, fruit.

I was a little let down by the absence of chicken...i guess if you dont grill it yourself, you shouldn't expect it. though it's messier to prepper, lb for lb, its the best deal

now: back to paying for food

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

peaches and too much cream

I made a quart of peach ice cream. Used a 2:1 cream:milk ratio for the base...neadless to say it tastes as buttery as it sounds.

- Scald 1 cup Milk (2%)
- Lightly beat 4 egg yolks with just under 1 cup sugar
- Slowly beat scalded milk into yolk/sugar
- Cook until thick on low/medium heat
- Let cool a little and mix in 2 cups cream
Can be stored in fridge for some days

- Peel and cube 3 large, white peaches
- Mix with 1/2 cup sugar and half-a-lemons juice in a saucepan
- Leave it on medium heat until thick
- at some point: pulverize with potato mashing device

Just before adding to machine, mix base and peaches (also the time to add other flavors (ie:vanilla))

Next time a 1:2 ratio...we'll see

for now: eating it 3 spoonfuls at a time