Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sesame Tofu


This tofu was exemplary! I could have sat down with the whole bowlful and happily eaten every morsel. As it  I stood, it was very difficult to walk away without taking another bite. After all, this recipe makes plenty of tofu for four servings.

I have cooked and eaten a lot of tofu--it is so versatile; this is officially my new favorite way to prepare it. And I will be experimenting with different sauces. I can't wait to try it with barbecue sauce.

I fried the tofu in peanut oil which imparts a very flavorful crunch all its own. If seasoned well before coating, these cubes would be lovely to add protein to a green salad.

Sesame Tofu
1 (one pound) package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup cornstarch
Oil for frying
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. (or more) red pepper flakes
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
4 scallions, finely sliced
Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels. Place on a cutting board and top with another board or a plate. Top with a can or something rather heavy, to press much of the water out of the tofu. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together in a small saucepan, the honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper, sesame oil, and vinegar. Simmer gently until ready to use. 
Unwrap the tofu, dry off, cut into bite sized cubes, and toss with the cornstarch to coat. Fry in about 1-inch of oil, which has been heated to 350 degrees, stirring and flipping until it is golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels.
Place the golden tofu cubes in a serving bowl. Pour over the sauce and add in the scallions and sesame seeds. Toss well but gently until all the tofu pieces are coated. Serve right away.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Toast with Blue Cheese, Figs & Honey

Spread some blue cheese on a slice of toast. Add a few slices of fresh fig and drizzle with honey. Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes to heat the fig, bringing out the juiciness, and to melt the cheese. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Glaze, Raspberry Smoothies & Raspberry-Smoothie Pops

 The family princess turned 4 years old. I asked her to help me make a cake and did she want a big cake or cupcakes. The answer was a resounding, "CUPCAKES"! I knew she wanted chocolate (is there any other flavor) but I asked if she wanted chocolate frosting or pink. The answer was pink.

She was very helpful in making the little cakes and also made it so much fun. I measured, she sifted and poured. She cracked the eggs and turned the mixer off and on. She placed the muffin papers in the pans and helped pour the batter.

Later, she decorated them all by herself! Aren't they pretty?

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Beat well.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

I decided on using the same cream cheese frosting I had recently used for another cake because Princess liked it very much.  However, this time I used raspberry puree in the place of milk in the recipe to flavor it and also to tint it pink. (I don't use commercial food colorings).

To remove the seeds from the raspberries, place them in the blender with a very small amount of water. Process into a puree and then press through a fine mesh strainer.

With the extra raspberry puree, we made delicious Raspberry Smoothies.

And with some intentionally leftover smoothie, we made Smoothie-Pops!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pakastani "Old Clothes" Beef Curry (Nihari)

When I first saw the cookbook, The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla, I knew I wanted it. I don't buy a lot of cookbooks anymore, but this one was unique and had real appeal for me.

I love, love, Indian food. I love the spices and the complicated flavors. I have tried my hand at cooking Indian food, with mixed success. It is a very labor intensive way of cooking and a real gift of love, which I believe adds to the deliciousness.

Having had much success with crock pot cookery, this book doubly appealed to me, and also made sense. Not having ever seen anyone actually cooking Indian food, I've always had to depend on words, all of which did not totally make sense (to me). Dumping everything into a crock pot and walking away sounded so alluring, I finally bought the book.

There was still a bit of work to this recipe, namely peeling and slicing vegetables and mixing and grinding spices--all the most pleasurable parts of cooking to me. The combination of spices was so exotic and aromatic, I was practically swooning.

Pakistani "Clothes" Beef Curry (Nihari)
2 medium onions, sliced
2 pound beef brisket
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
4 whole cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp. garam masala
2 Tbsp. ground fennel
1 Tbsp. red chile powder
2 pinches nutmeg
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. white salt
1 tsp. black salt
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

Put the onions in the crock pot. Top with the beef.

Grind the ginger and garlic into a paste (I used a mini food processor) and add to crock pot.

Add the ground ginger, cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, garam masala, fennel, red chile powder, nutmeg, turmeric, white and black salt. Drizzle the oil over everything. There's no need to mix.

Cook on low for 9 hours. The dish is done when the beef starts to shred and fall apart, just like old clothes.

Enjoy with thick naan and a salad made with sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and sliced cucumbers, all drizzled with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with sea salt and a little red chile.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mom's Coleslaw, Richard's Baked Beans, and Mimi's Cornbread


I made these recipes for our Labor Day Picnic, but I also use these recipes throughout the year.

I love the coleslaw because it is creamy, yet has no mayo. The baked beans have lots of bacon and Richard says the secret ingredient is the Grandma's Molasses. Mimi has been experimenting with cornbread recipes and I really liked this version which uses corn flour (masa harina) rather than cornmeal. It also has quite a bit of sugar but doesn't taste overly sweet. It is excellent buttered and grilled the next day. 

Mom's Coleslaw
1 head cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 medium onion, cut into chunks

In a large bowl, toss cabbage, carrots, and celery seed. Place the oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard, and onion in a blender. Cover and process until combined and creamy. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Chill before serving with a slotted spoon.

Richard's Baked Beans
1 package bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 (15 oz.) cans baked beans
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup molasses
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, fry bacon until crisp. Place on paper towels to drain and set aside. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat in pan.

Brown the onions and brown peppers in the bacon fat. (Richard says, "And I mean brown". Add the beans, mustard, ketchup, molasses, reserved bacon, and salt and pepper to the pan with onions and peppers. Stir well to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, until the beans are bubbling and the top is caramelized.

Mimi's Cornbread
1 1/2 cups corn flour (masa harina)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine corn flour, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs.

Combine wet and dry ingredients until just mixed.

Melt butter in an 8-inch iron skillet or baking pan. When the butter is hot and melted, pour all but 1 Tbsp. into the batter. Stir in quickly and immediately pour mixture back into the hot pan.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.