Monthly Archives: November 2011

Curry Crusted Fried Tofu with Broth-y Soba Noodles

 This is a fantastic dinner and you should try it! So what if you are not vegetarian, vegan or blood type A!

I made this dinner for my friend who was visiting, and she couldn’t get enough of the crispy tofu and unctuous broth.

Curry Crusted Fried Tofu with Broth-y Soba Noodles

If however you want the same lime-y loveliness of the broth, you can substitute the tofu for chicken and do the same thing. Use thinly sliced breast and it should cook about a minute longer per side.

Also, about the curry powder coating on the tofu; try to stock your pantry with interesting curry powders and seasonings. If you ever get the chance to go to a good supermarket or spice shop, take the opportunity to stock up on unusual pantry items. It can help many-a-dish in a pinch if you are wondering how to add flavor fast!

This is easy and fast, so no thinking you can’t cook, or need to order in tonight!

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You will need: 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbs of curry powder (try to use something interesting. The one I used had fennel seeds roughly crushed in it), 1 carrot, thinly sliced, 4 scallions, including green parts, thinly sliced, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, juice of 1/2 a lime, 1 tbs finely grated ginger root, 1/2 good quality vegetarian stock cube (I use Rapunzel brand with herbs and sea-salt), 1 1/2 cups water, 14 oz extra-firm tofu, water squeezed out (read method below), (OR if you want to use chicken instead of tofu, use 2 chicken breast, thinly sliced or 8 chicken tenders), 8 oz soba (buckwheat) noodles, sea-salt and cracked black pepper to taste, 4 lime wedges for garnish.

 

* Cook the soba noodles according to instructions and rinse well under cold water (in a colander) and set aside until ready to add to dish.*

1 – Place block of tofu on a plate and stack about 4 or 5 dinner plates on top of it. It should balance pretty easily. Leave it for about 20 minutes, (or longer), after which time more of the water in the tofu is squeezed out, making it easier to fry.

2 – Slice the tofu block into 8 even pieces. Sprinkle the curry powder on a big plate and coat the tofu on both sides in the mixture. Press the tofu into the plate making sure you get a good coating.

Fry tofu

3 – Put a big saute pan on med/high heat and let it get hot. Add the oil and when the oil is nice and hot, add the tofu in an even layer and fry on both side for about 3 minutes (per side). Do not touch the tofu while it is frying, which will prevent sticking problems. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

*If substituting with chicken, cook for about a minute longer per side*

cook veggies,

4 – Turn heat down to low/medium and add the vegetables, and parsley  (not the ginger) to the pan. Saute for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

add liquid

5 – Add the crumbled bouillon, ginger, lime juice, and water and stir to incorporate. Bring to a slight simmer and cook for about 8 minutes more. Taste for addition of salt and pepper. Add soba noodles and cook until warmed through.

add noodles

Divide soba mixture between 4 warmed shallow bowls and add the tofu and a lime wedge to garnish.

Curry Crusted Fried Tofu with Broth-y Soba Noodles

Paradise Pumpkin Pie (makes 1 pie, 8 servings)

What a fabulous name for a pie! Ever since I started celebrating this Holiday in the United States, I have tried all kinds of pumpkin pie, and this one is by far my favorite, for two reasons.

Yes, yes, I did a corny thing and plunked a tacky ornament on my piece of pie. I think tackiness has a place in this holiday, considering the marshmallow layer on top of the sweet potatoes, and the tri-colored jello on the dinner plate!

First reason is sentimental. My man Dave has officially gotten the job as pie-maker for this occasion. It would be a sin for me to even attempt any other recipe. In 1995 he wrote it down on a scrap of paper while on the phone to his mother. It is this piece of paper that is carefully taken out of it’s place in a plastic bag (which contains a curious assortment of recipes written down over the years), hidden amongst my ever-mounting cookbook collection.

The other reason is taste. When you slice into it the surprise is that it has two distinct colors; the orange of the pumpkin and a white layer of sweetened cream cheese. It has that familiar nutmeg-y flavor, but then you get this silky bite of creaminess to enjoy along with it!

I knew my mother-in-law Diane had been given the recipe by her mother, who has been making this pie for years (She’s now 99!), but only this year I found out that the official name was, Paradise Pumpkin Pie!

That made me love it even more.

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For the Cream Cheese Layer; You will need: 80z cream cheese, room temperature, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg.

For the Pumpkin Layer; You will need: 1 1/4 cups canned pure pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, dash of salt, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 cup evaporated milk, 2 eggs.

1 deep 9″ pie crust (made or store-bought)

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Combine all of the cream cheese layer ingredients in a food processor (or mixer) and scrape into the bottom of your pie crust.

2 – Combine the pumpkin pie layer in the processor and scrape on top. It will be very full, so be careful.

just out of the oven

3 – Put on a baking tray and place in the oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Check after 1 hour. The center should still be a little wobbly looking. Set on a rack to cool completely, and then into the fridge until ready to serve.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead

We enjoyed our pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream and a slice of key lime pie (1 dessert just wasn't enough!)


Decandent Pork Tenderloin Fajita (makes 8 big ones!)

 If you want to make something truly over-the-top deliciously decadent, then this is the recipe for you my friend!

Just look at this picture for goodness sake; it is completely packed with flavor. It had zing, heat, mouthwateringly-good pork, crunch, and smoke, all wrapped in a softly warmed flour tortilla, which is home-made at that!

Decadent Pork Tenderloin Fajita

Wipe away the fear you have of making your own floury tortilla and get down to the fun of making this dish. 

The kitchen takes on a party atmosphere, and you can enlist all manner of volunteers to chops, slice and dice.

Once you taste this, you will crave it again and again.

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You will need:1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, 1 large green pepper, thinly sliced, 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced, 2 chipotle peppers along with 1 tbs adobo sauce, sliced (a chipotle pepper is a smoked jalapeno and is found in a can in a smokey sauce called adobo. You can find it in the ethnic section of your supermarket), juice of 1 lime, 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, 6 tbs olive oil, bunch of spinach leaves, 2 avocados, quartered & sliced (optional), 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar (optional), 1 cup sour cream (optional), hot sauce (optional), 2 cups refried beans (home-made or good quality canned), 8 flour tortillas (bought or homemade)

2 – First, prep all ingredients as instructed above.

sliced peppers

*If you are going to make your own home-made tortilla (as I aways do; I just can’t help it, they taste so good, and are totally worth the extra 20 minutes it takes to get dinner together), click “flour Tortilla” in my search box to the right and a fab. recipe will appear! Do this while the meat is marinating*

Dough resting for flour tortilla

2 – Put chopped meat into a bowl and add the lime juice, 2 tbs of the oil, chipotle peppers and their sauce and chopped garlic. Mix well and set aside for about a 1/2 hour (or as long as it takes to get everything else prepped). You can also do this earlier and store in the fridge, taking out 20 minutes before using.

marinate pork

Put big saute pan or wok on high heat and when it is hot add 2 tbs of oil. When it begins to smoke, add the peppers and cook until they are beginning to char on the edges. Remove to a plate and add 1 more tbs of oil.

stir-fry peppers on high heat

4 – Immediately add the meat to the pan and stir-fry for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the peppers back to the pan and turn heat off.

mix cooked pork and peppers together

To assemble your fajita, lay the warm tortilla on your plate and spread some beans down the center. Add some peppers and pork, followed by all or some of the following; spinach, grated cheese, avocado, sour cream and hot sauce (we use Tapatio)

fill with pork and an array of fresh accompaniments

This is a dinner to love!

Superb Lamb Stew with Herbs, & Winter-y Veggies (serves 6)

They say that self-praise is no-praise, but I have to pat myself on the back for this gem of a dish (pat, pat)!

Superb Lamb Stew

I wanted to make something splendid. My friend Bird was in from New York, and each day had to be full of fun adventures, and fabulous food each evening.

Sage, Bay leaves & Pearl onion skins (evidence of good food to come)

I took this dinner to my friend Tom’s house, and it became part of an even larger affair, with 4 different kinds of pizzas, cheese plates, and other side dishes too numerous to mention.

I thought after about 2 months of doing this blog, the food would run out. Now I find I cannot keep up with the amount of dishes to be documented and talked about. I will have to leave the pizza for another day, and give it the spot in this diary that it deserves.

Suffice is to say, I waddled home very contentedly.

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You will need: 5 or so tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 1/2 lbs stewing lamb, cut into large chunks (you can also buy it pre-cut), 2 tbs freshly chopped sage leaves, 1 large sprig sage (about 10 leaves), 2 tbs freshly chopped tarragon, 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 tsp sea-salt, 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 5 cloves garlic, sliced, 1 lb whole white mushrooms, 2 cups pearl onions, (red, white or yellow), 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks, 2 cups baby carrots, 3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks, 2 tbs all-purpose flour, 1 good quality bouillon cube ( veggie or chicken), 1 cup red wine, 3 cups water, 3 tbs soy sauce, 4 tbs mirin, 1 tbs sugar

Preheat 450*

1 – Put pot of water on high heat and when it comes to a boil, add the onions. cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, and, when cool enough to handle, remove the skins. You do this by cutting the end where it grew from and then squeezing until the onion pops out of the skin.

2 – Put meat into a big bowl and add the salt, pepper, herbs and garlic. Stir together and let sit for 10 minutes, (you can also leave in the fridge for up to 6 hours)

add seasonings to meat

3 – Put big saute pan or heavy casserole on high heat and add half of the oil. When it is slightly smoking, add the meat and sear on both sides until brown. You will need to do this in batches and add more oil as you go. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

sear meat

4 – Turn heat down to medium and add more oil if necessary. Add the mushrooms and onions to the pan and saute for 10 minutes. Add the crumbled bouillon, sage sprig, and flour, and mix into the vegetables. Add the red wine and water and turn heat up. Stir until liquid reaches a simmer and then add the lamb back to the pan.

saute pearl onions and mushrooms

5 – Cover pan and place in preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours. Take out of oven and test meat by piercing with a knife. If it goes through very easily,the meat is cooked.

* while dish is cooking, put the remaining veggies (parsnips, sweet potatoes, & carrots) into a pot with the soy, mirin, sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently (with lid) until vegetables are just soft. Drain and set aside until you are ready to add to the finished dish*

add liquids

6 – The moment you take the dish out of the oven, remove the lid and add the cooked root vegetables. Cover and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to let the veggies warm up.

remove from oven and add cooked wintry veggies

Serve as is, or with mash, rice, pasta, bread or a salad. All I can say is, be prepared to fight over the last scraps in the pan!

Can be serves alone, or, with whatever else you fancy

What Will I Remember About The Thanksgiving Holiday?

Yes, yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we did celebrate with an enormous American-style feast…like,

the string of fresh cranberries lining the center of the table made by my nieces Olivia & Elise...

the completely corny goblet set for dinner...

the impressive bread rolls by my mother-in-law...

the Cranberry & Ginger relish by my sister-in-law Beth...

the wildly strange but unbelievably delicious meat dressing by mother-in-law, handed down to her from her now 99-year-old mother.....

the side dish of acorn squash, carrots, and parsnips braised glazed with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, by me...

the big plate of "Monster Cookies" by my mother-in-law Diane...

the over-the-top- desserts of Key Lime Pie flown in from Florida by my friend Ellen, and my man Dave's Paradise Pumpkin Pie...

the way the light hit my friend bird's dinner in the late afternoon.

That was indeed all lovely. But, the thing I will remember forever is the big pile of Autumn leaves being raked into a giant pile, and my kids and their cousins diving in and amongst them!

Unforgettable Day.

Whole Roast Chicken with Ginger and Olive Broth served with Spinach Salad (serves 4)

I wanted to be festive the night before the Thanksgiving Holiday in these here United States, so……as I never get to cook a turkey (that job being my mother-in-law’s), I cooked a roast chicken in a celebratory style!

Whole Roast Chicken with Ginger & Olive Broth

It tasted like a mini-feast on a plate. The ginger-y, olive-y broth added to the succulence of the chicken, and, the crunch of the simple salad was the perfect accompaniment.

The lovely Spinach Salad (I added some olives to the salad, more lovely, but it is not necessary)

I also made rice for those who wanted more girth, and managed to satisfy everyone.

It was a beautiful family night and I was so thankful for food, and the power it has to bring people together.

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For the Roast Chicken ;You will need: 1 whole chicken, (3lb), 2 onions, cut in half & sliced into very thick 1/2 moons, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 fresh bay leaves, 1 tbs minced fresh ginger root, 1 tbs fresh lime juice, 1 vegetarian bouillon cube, crumbled, 1 cup pitted green olives, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil,  3 cups water, cracked blacked pepper & sea salt to season chicken,

For The Spinach Salad; You will need: 10 oz (approx) baby spinach leaves, washed and dried, 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tbs good quality balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp honey, cracked black pepper.

Preheat Oven 400*

1 – In a heavy casserole with a lid, add the onions, olives, rosemary, bay leaves, lime juice, crumbled bouillon cube and grated ginger.

Lay veggies and herbs in bottom of heavy casserole

2 – Lay the chicken on top and drizzle with the oil and several grinds of black pepper. Put lid on top and place in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

lay chicken on top and add pepper and oil

3 – Remove lid from pot and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes at which time the skin will have browned. Transfer chicken to a plate  to rest (tent with foil) for about 10 minutes. When you carve the bird it will release juice, which you should return to the pan juices.

* If you are cooking rice, time to have ready by the time the chicken comes out of the oven*

remove chicken to rest on a plate

For the Salad: Whisk the olive oil, balsamic and honey together. Taste and add more of any or all of the ingredients until it is to your taste. Put leaves into a bowl and dress the salad right before you serve.

My man Dave mixed the salad into the chicken and add rice (very delish)

Divide the dish between four plates, making sure to give everyone lots of pan juices with onions and olives.

Colorful Tofu (or chicken!) Curry. serves 4

 Yet another day in my life, and that of course meant, another dinner. This one was made to please me, but I felt bad about the people who did not want to eat tofu, and threw some chicken in aswell. This was a way to please everyone with minimal effort on my part.

Colorful Tofu Curry

Yes, it is true, I want to please everyone, all of the time, but, that can get you into trouble (and I’m not just talking about food!).

This one was not complicated however as I know the whole family liked curry of one form or another, and so this is what I came up with.

When you live with three other people, it is impossible to eat the foods you want to (or possibly need to) all of the time, so I end up with something like this on occasion. I will say that it was very good and plan to make this compromise of a dinner again in the future.

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You will need: 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 onion, diced, 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, 1 cup carrots, sliced, 2 celery ribs, sliced, 2 cups cubed extra firm tofu, (or 2 chicken breast fillets, sliced medium/thin) 1 tbs good quality curry powder, 1 1/2 tbsp flour (don’t use if you are really strict Type A), 6 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped, 1 good quality vegetarian bouillon cube, crumbled (I used Rapunzel brand), juice of 1/2 lime,  4 cups water.

* This curry also works just as well with sliced chicken breast. Use 2 breasts, sliced, for this recipe and add when instructed below. It is still a Blood Type A dinner but the chicken is not as beneficial as the tofu. However, it is handy if you are having guests, or you are not a fan of tofu*

1 – Put pot (3 or 4 qt size) on medium heat and add the oil. When it has warmed, add the garlic, onions, celery and carrots and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute veggies

2 – Add the curry powder, and crumbled bouillon cube, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir again, until it is fully incorporated.

add spices & flour

3 – Add the water and turn up heat slightly and bring to a simmer, while stirring occasionally. Add the chicken or tofu and cover with lid. Turn heat down and simmer gently for about 12 minutes (8 minutes for tofu).

Add tofu

4 – Add the lime juice, and washed spinach, and cover. Continue  to cook until the spinach has cooked into the broth (about 5 or 6 minutes). Turn off heat and serve, or keep warm.

add spinach

This can be eaten on its own, with pasta, noodles, or rice, depending on you diet and taste. Remember to cook your accompaniments to be ready by the time you are set to serve.

Serve with soba noodles....or

Serve with rice