Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spicy Black Pepper Tofu

You think you don't like tofu? Apparently you've never had it fried. The texture becomes crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Smother that with a spicy, peppery sauce and you'll realize that tofu doesn't have to be considered a meat substitute, but can become the main attraction.

{Spicy Black Pepper Tofu}
adapted from Epicurious

serves 2

1/2 package firm tofu (some brands have packages of 2 half-blocks as well)
Vegetable oil for frying
Cornstarch to dust the tofu
3 tbsp butter
4 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 fresh red chile, seeded and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2-3 green onions, sliced
Jasmine rice, prepared to package directions

Drain tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1" cubes, pat dry again. Dust tofu in cornstarch and fry in oil, turning once until golden brown (oil should come about halfway up the sides of the tofu cubes). Fry in batches if necessary. Drain on paper towels.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then use the same pan to melt the butter. Add the shallots, chiles, garlic and ginger. Sauté on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the soy sauce and sugars and stir, then add the crushed black pepper.
Add the tofu to warm it up in the sauce for about a minute (letting it sit too long will make the crispy outside of the tofu become soggy. It's still delicious, but the texture adds more depth). Serve over jasmine rice, garnish with green onions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Special Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yeah, I know, everyone thinks their chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best. But this is actually different from everybody else's recipe. My mom's standard recipe always tasted delicious, but the cookies would always be fat. One day I made some other kind of cookies that used melted white chocolate in the batter and they were too thin. I combined the two to make this recipe.

{Special chocolate chip cookies}

serves plenty

2 1/4 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 c. (2 sticks) softened butter
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. vanilla instant pudding mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c. white chocolate chips (Guittard brand preferred)
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix the butter, sugars, vanilla and pudding mix until creamy. (Compared to a regular cookie recipe, the pudding mix substitutes a portion of the sugar.) Beat in eggs. Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate chips and stir until smooth. I'm adamant about the brand of the chips because, for some reason, if I use a different brand the texture and flavor just isn't quite the same. However, if you can't find them in the store (I looked two different places and they weren't there!), don't fret too much. Anyway, mix the melted white chocolate into the batter. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop out tablespoon-sized blobs and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tangerine Lemon Curd

{Tangerine Lemon Curd}
from Joy the Baker

2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon tangerine zest
1/4 cup tangerine juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt

Combine sugar and tangerine zest on a clean cutting board. With a bench knife or the back of a spoon, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is very fragrant and slightly orange in color.

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, whisk together egg yolks, egg, tangerine sugar, juices, butter and salt. Whisk over the heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This takes about 5 minutes. The mixture will begin to smell just like citrus curd. It’s delicious.

Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Transfer to a small jar or airtight container and refrigerate until cool and thicker in texture. Curd will last, refrigerated, for about a week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sushi Rolls

I had been wanting to try making sushi for a long time, but it intimidated me. I'm happy to report that it was a tasty success and I can't wait to have some more.

{Sushi rolls}

serves 4

For the rice:
1 1/2 c. sushi rice
2 1/4 c. water
5 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
dash of salt

For the rest:
4 sheets of nori
1 cucumber
1 carrot
1 avocado
1 package imitation crab meat (leg style)
Wasabi paste
Pickled ginger
Soy sauce

Equipment (optional):
Bamboo rolling mat

Put rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Microwave until warm and stir until sugar dissolves. When rice is completely cooked, fold in rice vinegar solution. Mix 1 cup of water with remaining rice vinegar (2 tablespoons). Dip a paper towel in the solution and coat a platter (this prevents the rice from sticking too much). Spread out rice on the platter and fan several minutes, turn/mix the rice, and fan again until cool. The fanning can be done by hand, but it will take forever and give you a cramped wrist, so do yourself a favor and plug one in.

Cut all the vegetables and crab meat into long, thin strips. Lay out one sheet of nori, shiny side down, onto the mat. Spread a thin layer of cooled rice over nori, using the leftover water/vinegar solution to keep it from sticking to your hands. Ignore the bad example of the photo and make sure the rice goes to the edge. Lay the vegetables and crab at one end, and roll everything up. The stickiness of the rice will hold it together. Slice each roll into 5 pieces. Serve with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food / Film: Whole Wheat Strawberry Granola Pancakes + The Breakfast Club

{Whole Wheat Strawberry Granola Pancakes}
adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for brushing the skillet
1 1/2 cup whole milk, plus additional if needed
1 to 1 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup granola

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together yolks, oil and 1 1/2 cups milk in another bowl and add to the flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Let batter stand for 5 minutes to allow flour to absorb liquid (batter will thicken).

If batter is too thick to fall easily from a spoon, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons additional milk. Fold in strawberries and granola.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. With a whisk, gently but thoroughly fold into batter.

Brush a griddle or 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate. Working in batches of 4, spoon 2 tablespoons batter per pancake into a hot skillet, spreading it if necessary to form 3- 3 1/2 inch rounds. Cook pancakes until bubbles appear on surface, edges are set and undersides are golden, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Flip pancakes with a metal spatula and cook until undersides are golden and pancakes are cooked through. Lower heat if pancakes brown too quickly and insides aren’t set. Transfer pancakes to plate and serve with Vanilla-Brown Sugar Syrup. Brush griddle with more oil between batches.

{Vanilla-Brown Sugar Syrup}

1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine brown sugar, water, butter, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil until syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and vanilla, then let cool to warm or room temperature.

 "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."