24 June 2016

Black Pepper Tofu and other Genius Recipes

The good folks at Food52 have come out with an in-print book, Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook. It's actually a compendium of other famous chefs' recipes throughout the ages (including Julia Child's lovely grated zucchini casserole and Marcella Hazan's weirdly boring tomato sauce with onions and butter). Notes from the editors at Food52 explain how and why the recipe works and include "kitchen hacks" like "you can cut the amount of butter if you want."  So really, they've done a great job of rounding up some excellent recipes and putting them in one place for us to use.  It's debatably ironic for a well-established food blog to be in the printed cookbook business at this point in the 21st Century, but I still enjoy the tactile sensation of flipping through it, at any rate. And the photos are very nice.

Two of my favorite recipes are pretty modern in origin, including one from fellow blogger Smitten Kitchen.  I have included my own substitutions (or "hacks", if we must). Buy the book if you want, or just subscribe to Food52's excellent blog. You really will learn new things.

Yotam Ottolenghi's delicious Black Pepper Tofu recipe

with these substitutions:
  • just use 9 tablespoons of soy sauce, and add one more tablespoon of sugar
  • I used four small serrano peppers because it's what I had
  • I could not for the life of me crush my black pepper by hand--it just kept jumping out of the bowl. So I used a pepper grinder and did more like 3 tablespoons (to make up for the heat of the serranos)
  • I used 6 green onions and about 2 cups of steamed broccoli

Another great recipe included is Debra Perlman's (Smitten Kitchen) Mushroom Bourguignon. I actually used a mix of white and shitake mushrooms, because it's what I had, and I definitely had to add some water to keep the gravy from being too pasty in the end.  I also added salt, because I apparently like it more than she does.  But it's a totally solid foundation for a recipe. 

21 June 2016

The best recipe for your extra green beans

Oh man, I love this super-fast and simple recipe.  It's as junky as whatever your favorite greasy take-out is, and it's a great way to to use green beans that are slightly (ahem) past their prime. It makes a total mess out of your stove, though. Sorry.  It's worth it. 

Szechuan-Style Charred Green Beans

Serves 4

1 pound green beans, trimmed
4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
4 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons peanut oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and dry well with a kitchen towel.
Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce: ginger, chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar. 

Heat the peanut oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Cook the green beans, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blister and develop some charred spots. Remove from heat and allow to sit for a minute or two to avoid an explosive mess, and then stir in the sauce.  Serve as a side or with rice and black tea and pepper tofu!

17 June 2016

What's easier than pie? CRUMBLE.

Rhubarb pie is very nice, but a crumble is even easier, and this one also involves pretty simple clean-up (mix the filling right in the baking dish, dirty one other bowl for the crumble). I love the flavor of coconut oil in this topping, but you traditionalists out there could easily replace it with butter.

Rhubarb Crumble

Serves 8-10

3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

6 tablespoons coconut oil
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking or gratin dish. Toss rhubarb with white sugar, almond extract, lemon zest, and cardamom and spread evenly in baking dish.

Combine all remaining ingredients (coconut oil through pecans) in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden and beginning to brown, 45 to 50 minutes.

14 June 2016

Vegan cooking with the Shannons (+ recipe)

Dan and Annie Shannon must be the cutest damn couple.  They have kids and they're fun-loving, frugal vegans!  Nah, I shouldn't make fun--I wanted to like their book, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking. They want to use (mostly) common ingredients, they want to be cheap (they even break down the cost per serving of making each dish), and they're open about ways to use leftovers.  What's not to like?  But many of the recipes are just bland, some measurements don't work (the lemon-tahini sauce turned out to be a gloppy mess of tahini with some things stuck in it), and they rely too heavily, IMHO, on meat replacements, which are ironically expensive, and totally unnecessary if you can just get past the mindset of needing a serving of meat on each plate. (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall offers a great restructuring of the common meal, for instance.)

But here's a version of a recipe I really liked (though I doubled the amount of pepper to give it some kick). This works great with some steamed veggies and cooked rice (you can actually use the leftover marinade, whisk in a little corn starch and chili-garlic sauce, and cook it up as a sauce for the veggies), but it's also a great snack by itself for cocktail hour with friends. The authors also suggest tucking the tofu into a sandwich, and if I did that, I think I'd make a bright little vinegary cole slaw to throw on top. 

Black Tea and Pepper Tofu

Adapted from Shannon, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking
Serves 4

2 cups strong brewed black tea, room temperature (I like Russian Caravan for its smokiness)
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns, plus more to sprinkle on top
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 16-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into squares or strips
¼ cup neutral oil (grapeseed, canola,…)
Lemon wedges, for serving

In a shallow dish, whisk together the tea, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and soy sauce.

Pat tofu dry and place in the marinade (above). Leave for 10 minutes, then flip and marinade for another 5 minutes.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the tofu on both sides to golden. Drain pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve hot, seasoned with more pepper if desired and lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.