Monday, February 13, 2012

Flavor Sponge


Gross, right? 

No, I say!  No! 

Dear lord, I sound like a lesbian.

This little spongy block of bean curd is low in calories, high in protein, and takes on flavor like no bodies business. You just gotta know how what to do with it.  Since it originated in China, you are best off using Asian flavors it.

Try this for a satisfying light lunch with the gals. 

Now I sound like a country club, soccer mom.

I need help.

Delicious lesbian food.
Grilled Spicy Tofu with Asparagus

Marinating tofu is a great way to fill it with deliciousness.  Make sure you give yourself time to allow it to dry out (as it is packed in water) and time to marinate (replacing the water with tasty love).

1 16 oz block extra firm tofu
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp Thai chili paste
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbl freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

Remove tofu from water and drain between a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towel, applying pressure occasionally.  We are trying to get all of the water out.  Replace towels a couple of times.  This can take about 20-30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk together.  Remove tofu and slice into eight pieces, roughly 1 inch wide.  Place in marinade for 20 minutes, tossing half way through to make sure each piece is evenly coated.

Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat.  Add tofu and cook until grill marks appear flipping once (about 4-6 minutes) until heated through.  If your pan is large enough, add asparagus at the same time.  Before removing from heat, drizzle asparagus with marinade.  This will smoke up a bit, thanks to the sesame oil and honey. 

Serve tofu over asparagus. 

Then go do arts and crafts.  Make a candle or protest something.  You know, lesbian stuff.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Late Nite Snack

Last night, J and I took in a show with a friend.

We then went for drinks.

We then needed food.
So simple.  So tasty!

Vi-Oh-Lay!  Edamame with Thai Basil Pesto!  A perfect late nite bite.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cheese Pleeze

It's been over a month since I've had any cheese.

Yes, I feel good.

Yes, I'm not bloated.

Yes, I would kill an orphan or stab a nun for a wedge of brie.

This was tasty and all, but look at that cubist stuff trying to pass itself off as cheese.

I made a grilled portobello panini with broccoli pesto and some tired ass soy cheese that claims to "melt like real cheese."

Nothin' melts like real cheese, 'cept REAL CHEESE.

I'm gonna treat myself to some mozzarella today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feelin' Saucy

Healthy is healthy, but there ain't no one on earth that can convince me that steamed veggies are tastier than grilled or roasted vegetables.

Yes, aren't adding any fat to them and, if you do it quick enough, steaming can keep most of those nutrients intact.  But it always taste like...mush.

If you ask me, I'd much rather use a little bit of oil and blast those suckers with some heat (whether it be from a grill or an oven) and bring out those natural sugars to intensify their flavors.

And then hit 'em with a little (emphasis on "little") somethin' somethin' to make it feel like a meal.

So I played around in the kitchen and came up with a lovely "vinaigrette.

 Roasted Red Pepper and Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

 Kalamatas and capers provide a nice briney balance to the sweetness.
The clementine juice in this velvety sauce brings a wonderful brightness making it muy delicious on veggies or fish.  I like to roast my own peppers (mainly because I love that charred smell that fills the kitchen).  Feel free to use a jarred pepper, but rinse thoroughly before blending.

1 red pepper
5 sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh clementine juice (about 3 clementines)
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbl fresh tarragon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt 'n pepper

Place pepper directly on a gas burner on high heat and char all sides.  It sounds kind of like a campfire! Once the pepper is blackened, place in a shallow glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat that sucker for about 15 minutes or until it's cool enough to handle.  (You can also use an outdoor grill or broil them for 45 minutes.  I find the cook top a faster method.)

Once cooled, remove the charred, blackened skin and seeds.  Just paw at it, that should do the trick.  Give the flesh a rough chop and transfer to a food processor along with the tomatoes, garlic, juice, vinegar and tarragon.  Whir it up until it's smooth.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Woes Of a Thee-A-Ter Widder

Once again, I find myself a thee-a-ter widder.

In fact, J is pretty much booked solid for the next three months.

So, as a dutiful househusband, who is attempting to turn over that proverbial new leaf, I am left to my own devices, and newfound love of twigs and berries, to create healthy and satisfying dishes for my director/playwright/actor man.

Here’s what I came up with for tonight.

Quinoa with Thyme and Tarragon Caramelized Onions, Spinach and Poached Egg

Quinoa is a fabulous, protein rich grain that is extremely filling.  The onions and the yolk make for a delicious sauce that will warm you up on a cold night! Make sure you keep that water swirling for a perfectly poached egg.

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

3 Tbl olive oil

4 sprigs thyme

2 small sprigs tarragon (plus more for garnish)

1 tsp tarragon vinegar

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

4 cups baby spinach

1 clove garlic, minced

2 extra large eggs

2 cups cooked quinoa

salt and crushed red pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, heat 2 Tbl oil over low heat.  Add onions and season with a sprinkle of salt and crushed red pepper.  Make a bundle with the herbs and add to onions.  Cook over low heat for approximately 15 minutes until onions become transluscent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  Once the onions have begun to brown, deglaze pan with tarragon vinegar.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until vinegar has been fully incorporated.  Add honey and balsamic, and continue to cook until onions are a deep caramel color.  Remove bundle and set onions aside.

Fill a medium, deep-sided pan with 3 inches of water and a splash of white vinegar.  Bring to a simmer.  While the water is heating, heat the remaining 1 Tbl oil in a large sauté pan.

Here is where things are going to come together quickly.

Once the water simmers, gently swirl the water in one direction and add eggs, one at a time.  Keep the water swirling, and the egg whites will cover the yolks.  While the eggs cook, add garlic to the sauté pan and cook for about one minute.  Add spinach and wilt.  If you time it right, the spinach and eggs should be done at the same time (about 3 minutes).

Divide quinoa into two soup bowls or salad plates.  Layer spinach and onions.  Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs from water allowing excess water to drain off and plop those suckers on top.  Garnish with some sprigs of tarragon, salt, and red pepper.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Two Days Late and A Meat Product Short

The Super Bowl has come and gone, or as I like to call it “That Athletic Event Surrounding Madonna’s Half Time Show.” 


“The Most Holy of Snack Treat Days”


“Nachos:  The Reason for the Season.”

Go, Giants.


Instead of making my faux pho, as planned, I simply had to make some chili to enjoy with an old bucket of muscles…I mean Madonna.

In an attempt to continue my healthy new lifestyle, I retooled my usual Kick Ass Chili recipe and made some truly Kick Ass Vegan Chili

Spicy goodness!
Kick Ass Vegan Chili

If'n you have a mind, you can always use dried beans that you have cooked and prepared and flaunt it in the face of people who simply don't have the time to do so.  But I find canned organic beans are just as tasty, you freakin' over-achiever.

2 15 oz cans kidney beans
1 15 oz cans black beans
1 15 oz can northern beans
2 red onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
3 chipotle peppers, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups cooked quinoa
16 oz soy chorizo
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
4 Tbl chili powder
2 Tbl ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 cup water

In a large stockpot, heat oil and sauté onions for five minutes.  Add jalapeño, chiptole, and garlic to the onions and sweat those babies out for a couple of minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, and chipotle powder.  Stir the mixture until everything is coated and the spices have bloomed (about two minutes).  Add beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cook uncovered for 25 minutes stirring occasionally until chili has thickened slightly.  Crumble in soy chorizo and add quinoa.  Cook just to heat everything up.  Ladle it up, top with your favorite toppings, and dig in!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

One Day More...

I've been M.I.A. for a couple of weeks.

I've been going through a Toxin Cleanse.  Loosely translated, that means no dairy, no meat, no gluten, no sugar, and (in theory) no caffeine.  I must admit, I fudged on the caffeine part.  Ask any of my former students, cut me and I bleed Starbucks.  BUT, I did manage to keep it to just one cup in the morning (as opposed to my steady IV drip throughout the day).

And I must say, I genuinely feel better.  I have more energy, I feel lighter, and I've totally slimmed down.  There ain't a better way to kick off 40 than fitting into your skinny jeans.

Not to get too philosophical, but, over the past three weeks, I've learned a lot about my eating habits and I'm feeling the effect of eating "clean food".  Much of what I've eaten will now be incorporated into my weekly routine, but I will most definitely give myself more wiggle room.

I miss chicken stock and cheese too much.

So from this point on, you can expect more deliciously decadent food ideas with a healthy dose of...healthy doses.

Today, while America chows down on delectable snack treats and barrels of chili as they eagerly await Madonna's Half Time Show and funny commercials (I mean...why else do people watch the Super Bowl).  I will be enjoying some Miso Pho.  (Oh, Miso Pho-ny.  Oh, Miso Pho-ny.  Sorry I couldn't resist)

Soooo, satisfying on a cold night!
Miso Pho

Pho is a light but filling Vietnamese soup with rice noodles usually served with beef or chicken.  To keep it vegan, I used protein rich miso and tofu to help bulk it up, and fresh rice noodles will cook in seconds.  Check out your local Asian market for the ingredients.  If I can find it in Memphis, you should have no problem!

3 Tbl white miso
1 Tbl grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbl rice vinegar (or lime juice)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fish sauce
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 daikon radish, peeled and julienned
4 oz firm tofu, 1/2 inch cubed
2 sheets nori (seaweed), cut into small strips
8 cups water
2 cups fresh rice noodles

For the toppings

Fresh basil
Fresh cilantro
Bean sprouts
Green onions, finely sliced
Jalapeño, sliced and seeded

In a deep soup pot, saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent.  About 5 minutes.  While onions are cooking, combine miso, garlic, ginger, and vinegar (or lime juice) in a food processor and pulse until a smooth paste is formed.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and add 1 cup cold water.  Stir well, until the mixture is dissolved and set aside.

Once the onions have cooked, deglaze the pan with fish sauce.  Add carrots and daikon, and saute for about 2 minutes.  If you like, add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil at this time for a dark flavor.  Add remaining 7 cups of water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and add miso mixture to the pot along with the tofu and seaweed.  Simmer about 5-7 minutes.  Just before serving, add rice noodles to the soup and ladle into large bowls.  Top off soup with basil, cilantro, onions, and jalapeños. Serve immediately.