Monday, February 27, 2012

Spaghetti with green garlic butter

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Spaghetti with green garlic butter: A simple springtime dinner

It's starting to feel like spring here in southern California. My roses are budding. It's still light outside when I get home from work. The moms at school are chatting about spring break plans.

And green garlic has reappeared at the farmers' market.

If you've never tried green garlic, I recommend it. It's the young garlic plant, pulled to thin the rows before the garlic bulbs swell and harden underground. Looks like an overgrown green onion. You use the whole thing from root to tip. It acts like a leek but tastes mildly of garlic. It's delicious.

And then mix up some green garlic butter, a supremely useful condiment. I like it spread on warm bread, but it's also darn good tossed with al dente spaghetti. Add a sprinkle of grated cheese if you like, but not too much - you don't want to overwhelm the soft, sweet scent and flavor of garlic.




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Spaghetti with green garlic butter
Green garlic - the young garlic plant, pulled to thin the rows in early spring - combines a mild garlic flavor with the texture of green onion or leek. Look for it at farmers' markets or gourmet grocery stores and snatch it up when you see it: The season is short but well worth celebrating.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti, linguine or other long, thin pasta
  • 1/4 cup green garlic butter (click for recipe)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (optional)
Instructions
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, put the green garlic butter in a large bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water - the starch in the water will combine with the butter to make a nice sauce.When the pasta is cooked al dente ("to the tooth," or just cooked through), drain the pasta and add it to the bowl. Toss well so the green garlic butter coats every strand. Season with a little salt and a lot of freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with the cheese, if using. Serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mustard greens with garlic and dark soy sauce

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Today's Superfood: Mustard greens
Vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, manganese, fiber, calcium

Few things make this mother happier than having her 13-year-old son help with dinner.

Depending on the day.

Here's the thing: I'm territorial in the kitchen. At the end of a long or particularly frustrating day at work, I prefer to make dinner by myself, in silence. It calms me down. Poor Emery, my older son, my budding chef, who's always willing to help, often gets growled at when he offers his services.

I'm trying to be better, more accepting, more tolerant. I'm trying to make space for Emery at the stove. Which is why today, when a huge care package of pre-washed, pre-cut, ready-to-go Cut 'n Clean Greens showed up at the front door, I let him pick a container and got out of the way. (Sort of. I did backseat-saute a little bit.)



Emery is a big fan of greens. In fact, he grativates toward greens. The first dish he ever made on his own was Anita Loh-Yien Lau's Asian greens soup. And have you seen his spinach fried rice with furikake? We've been eating that one a lot lately.

Emery's cooking style runs more Asian than mine. Tonight's mustard greens got a few cloves of garlic and a healthy dash of dark soy sauce, plus a pinch each of salt and sugar. He fried the garlic nice and brown, which I love. These were mustard greens after my own heart.

The lesson (mostly talking to myself here): Relinquish control and let your kids cook. Let them experiment. And teach them to clean up after themselves. In all respects, they'll probably surprise you.
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Emery's mustard greens with fried garlic
Sturdy mustard greens take a trip to Asia with fried garlic, dark soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Dark soy sauce adds a rich flavor without too much liquid, but if you can't find it use regular soy sauce. Recipe created by Emery Kerekes, my 13-year-old son (and a very respectable chef for a teenager).
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp grapeseed or canola oil
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped (not too small)
  • 1 7-ounce package prepared Cut 'n Clean mustard greens (or 1 bunch mustard greens, leaves only, washed and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (substitute 2 tsp regular soy sauce)
  • pinch of sugar
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the garlic and stir-fry the garlic until it starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add the mustard greens, water and soy sauce. Cover the pan and steam the greens about 3-4 minutes. Uncover the pan, add the sugar and salt, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Photos: 2012 Oregon Truffle Festival

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Here are some of the sights from my weekend at the 2012 Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene. (Click here for a detailed report from the festival.)

Crystal, a trained truffle dog, led us into the woods to find Oregon white truffles
Grilled escarole with Oregon white truffles
Chef Rocky Maselli making polpettone (Italian meatloaf) studded with Oregon black truffles
Slicing polpettone
Chef Maselli's buckwheat crespelle with apples and truffle cream
Recipe contest winner Merry Graham with her truffled parsnip soup
Food writer Molly O'Neill with a Lagatto Romagnolo, the traditional Italian truffle-hunting breed
Chef Jason French's celery root and hazelnut salad with truffled remoulade
Jason French's truffled hen legs with melted and crispy leeks, one of the simplest dishes of the weekend (and, in my opinion, one of the most successful)
Chef Jason French of Portland's Ned Ludd restaurant shaving Oregon black truffles over hen legs
Truffled white bean puree with flatbread crackers
Chef Stephanie Pearl Kimmel's celery root and black truffle panna cotta with crab salad
Chef Chris Czarnecki's truffle-infused filet mignon with white truffle "snow"
Plating the first course for 300+ at the Grand Truffle Dinner
Chef John Newmann's Oregon black cod with black truffle aioli, shaved black truffles, braised greens and polenta
Truffle salt for sale at the Oregon Truffle Festival marketplace
An abundance of truffles and mushrooms at the marketplace
Foragers brought all kinds of truffle products to the market, including truffle-infused cheese (above), butter, salt and oil

Travel: Oregon Truffle Festival 2012

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Oregon black truffles
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at the Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene. I met interesting people, learned new things, saw new places, and tasted amazing dishes. For a truffle-lover like me, the Oregon Truffle Festival is as close to nirvana as I'm likely to get in a three-day weekend.

(Click here to see more photos from the 2012 Oregon Truffle Festival)

It's taken me longer than usual to pull together my thoughts about this trip, and I've been trying to figure out why. Normally I'm prompt and efficient with my reports: I go, I come back, I sort through my photos, and I write something within a day or two. This time I needed a few weeks to process and digest.

Mincing Oregon white truffles during a cooking demo

Part of it is that I'm convinced I'm onto something really important here, and I want to tell the story correctly. Oregon truffles are a food trend, a culinary story, in the making. Everyone knows about Italian truffles, French truffles, and (thanks to 60 Minutes) crappy Chinese truffles. But Oregon truffles are something quite different. They're kissing cousins to the European truffles biologically, and they cast the same kind of pheromonal spell, but their flavors, textures and scents are uniquely American.

Foodies in Oregon know that native truffles grow among the roots of the Pacific northwest's Douglas fir plantations. Some food-lovers in Seattle and California know it, too. But outside of the west coast, few foodies, chefs or food writers know they exist. Oregon truffles travel neither well nor often: As in Europe, the best ones never make it far from the dirt from which they were dug.

But that is going to change, and it's going to change soon. Sunset magazine sent a reporter and photographer to cover the festival this year. And renowned food writer Molly O'Neill and her One Big Table project hosted the opening dinner and sponsored the truffle recipe contest (my truffled Pacific rockfish "brandade" was one of the finalists). Oregon truffles are ready for their close-up.

Crystal, a trained truffle-hunting dog, sniffs for white truffles near Eugene


The other reason I've hesitated to write about my weekend at the Oregon Truffle Festival is that while the food was remarkable, most of the dishes prepared by the chefs during the festival were very different from my own style of cooking with truffles.

I'm a purist, I guess. I like my backgrounds bland, my canvas clean, so the truffles sit on top of the other flavors and sing out loud and clear.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed tasting dishes like Robin Jackson's white truffle-scented red & white quinoa in a creamy risotto style with Riesling-poached hen's egg, shaved coppa, wild winter herbs, lemon thyme emulsion and shaved Oregon white truffles. And Jason Stoller Smith's apple brandy advocaat with Oregon black truffles, Hood River apples, Iberico de Bellota panceta ahumado, cider gelee, yogurt biscuit, pine nuts and Oregon white truffle "snow." And a dozen or more other complicated, multi-layered truffle-laced dishes from some of the Pacific northwest's best chefs.

But in a lot of these fancy dishes I felt like the truffles were sort of lost. Overpowered, maybe. My palate got confused, fatigued, a little numb.

Truffled quinoa "risotto" with poached egg and coppa - tasty and complicated
 Which is why I've been treating the Oregon truffles I get at the Santa Monica farmers market much more simply. I shave them over scrambled eggs. Mix them with butter and make sandwiches of truffle butter and radishes. Grate them into a grilled cheese sandwich.

I think Oregon truffles are remarkable, and I probably don't have the technical skills to execute most of the dishes I tasted at the festival anyway. But the truth is that even if I did, I prefer my truffles in more casual clothing.

All that said, it was a magical weekend. I spent time with writers I admire (Molly O'Neill, Kathy Gunst, Langdon Cook). I met new friends (Merry, Jennifer, Jen). I followed Crystal the truffle dog into the woods and dug in the dirt with a stick. I learned that growers are ripping out grapevines in Napa and planting truffle-inoculated hazelnut trees, waiting with fingers crossed to harvest their first lumps of black gold.

And the whole experience felt a bit like a luscious, smug secret. The Willamette valley has it all: lush green hills and fields, remarkable wines, passionate chefs turning out spectacular food using extraordinary ingredients, including Oregon truffles. Someday soon hordes of culinary tourists will descend upon Eugene to experience Oregon truffles in their native habitat, the way tour buses pull up at vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. And it will be well deserved.

Click here to see more photos from the 2012 Oregon Truffle Festival

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Superfoods Forever: Broccoli mash

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Today's Superfood: Broccoli
Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, fiber

When I want a luxurious side dish that doesn't add too many calories to my dinner, I steam some broccoli and get out my food processor. Puree cooked broccoli with a splash of olive oil and a bit of grated cheese and you end up with a rich, thick paste with the texture of mashed potatoes. 

The trick to getting the right texture is making sure the broccoli isn't too wet. That's why I steam instead of blanching: Boiled broccoli not only loses some of its nutrients to the boiling water, but it purees up as more of a slurry and less of a mash.

You can mix a few mashed potatoes into this broccoli puree if you like, but it's not strictly necessary.




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Broccoli mash
Serve this chunky broccoli puree instead of mashed potatoes for a lower-calorie side dish.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, Romano or Grana Padano cheese
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
Cut the broccoli into rough pieces - stems, florets and all - and throw it into a steamer set over a pot of simmering water. Steam the broccoli about 10-15 minutes. Try to pull it out of the steamer when it's cooked through but not yet mushy - you want to catch it before it starts to turn gray.Put the cooked broccoli in a food processor and add the olive oil, grated cheese and lemon juice. Process until the mixture is almost smooth. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fresh corn tortillas with zucchini flowers

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My specialty is making food that tastes good. I'm not quite so skilled when it comes to making food that's beautiful.

But when I saw these stunning fresh corn tortillas with zucchini flowers on Girl + Fire, I thought I'd take a shot. And guess what? It wasn't actually that hard.



I've become a big fan of Maseca corn flour and now keep a bag in my pantry at all times. Mix Maseca with water to make dough, roll the dough into golf balls, press each one thin in a tortilla press, a minute in a nonstick skillet, and presto - tortillas. For a girl from Long Island who tasted her first tortilla long after her first legal margarita, it's pretty magical. 


You can use either waxed paper or plastic wrap to line the tortilla press and keep the tortillas from sticking to the press. If you don't have a tortilla press, I bet you could use the back of a heavy skillet and do it on the kitchen counter. (I haven't tried it, though, because a tortilla press is pretty easy to come by here in Los Angeles.)


If you can't find zucchini flowers, any edible flower will do, or try a branch or two of tarragon, chive flowers, a few sprigs of dill, thin strips of roasted bell pepper, or sliced olives. 



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Fresh corn tortillas with zucchini flowers
Fresh corn tortillas are easy and quick to make. Press edible zucchini blossoms into the tortillas for a dramatic presentation. Look for zucchini flowers at gourmet grocery stores or local farmers markets.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Maseca corn flour
  • about 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12-16 zucchini flowers, washed and gently patted dry
Instructions
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the Maseca and water until a soft dough forms. It should be moist but not sticky. Roll the dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter, somewhere between a walnut and a golf ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp towel or a piece of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.Line a tortilla press with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place one dough ball on the press, put another piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on top, and press down to flatten the tortilla. Lift the press, put one flower on the tortilla, replace the paper or plastic, and press down again gently to embed the flower into the raw tortilla.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tortilla until dry and cooked through, flipping to make sure both sides are cooked. Move the finished tortilla to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Continue with the rest of the tortilla dough and zucchini flowers. While one tortilla is cooking, press the next so it is waiting when the pan is empty. Serve warm.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-16 6-inch tortillas

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Superfoods Forever: Delicata squash with quinoa and arugula from Laura Malcolm

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Today's Superfood: Quinoa
Protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, folate

Erika says: Another great Superfood guest post, this time from fellow Los Angeleno Laura Malcolm. Laura and I worked together a few years back, but we really only got to know each other right before we both left the company - unfortunate, because we discovered we had a lot in common. She moved out of town for a while but is back in L.A. and on my shortlist of people I can't wait to have over for dinner.

I go through food obsessions not unlike music obsessions - pick three or four things, repeat on shuffle for a month, have my fill, revisit next year. This fall, arugula and delicata squash managed to find a new home in my kitchen and before long, a place in every dish a brought to a holiday party. It's surprising it took me so long to get to this delicata squash phase, considering how much I love winter squash but detest preparing it (any time I have to peel or dice it, at least). Delicata is, for me, the richness of a butternut squash with the delicacy of a yellow summer squash that, when roasted, gets a slightly crunchy skin (and better texture) than any grilled summer squash.

Quinoa is one of the most well known superfoods because of its amazing qualities, such as being a complete protein and containing a set of amino acids - something that's very uncommon in non-animal products. Quinoa is incredibly versatile, can be eaten any time of day and is a great substitute for rice or couscous. This recipe is a play on a common fall stuffed squash, but I've managed to take my current fall-food obsessions and carry them right through until now. Roasted delicata squash, arugula, quinoa and cranberries make a filling, fresh and colorful superfood dinner.


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Delicata squash with quinoa and arugula
Roasted delicata squash has the sweetness of butternut without any of the pain-in-the-neck peeling.
Ingredients
  • 4 delicata squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cranberry juice
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 5-ounce package arugula
  • salt
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut delicata squash in half, and remove the seeds and threads with a spoon. Rub with olive oil and salt, and place cut side down in a baking dish. Bake at 400 until easily pierced, about 25 minutes.In a small saucepan, heat about 1 tsp olive oil. Saute shallot for 2 minutes, then add cranberry juice and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn to low, and leave to reduce while you're cooking. Bring quinoa and water together on the stove to a boil, cover and turn to low. After 15 minutes, you should be able to stir with a fork and see the water has absorbed - if it hasn't, cover and give another minute. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa.Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft. Add dried cranberries to onion and garlic and let cook for a minute before finally adding quinoa to mixture and tossing to mix. Remove cranberry-balsamic reduction from the stove and whisk in olive oil until it's a taste you like. At this point, I either use a little to dress the arugula as well, or toss the arugula with a very simple olive oil, lemon and salt mixture.Turn roasted delicata squash cut side up and set two on each plate. At this point, you can either layer the arugula and quinoa mixtures in the squash, or I've taken to piling one squash with the quinoa mixture and one with arugula. Drizzle the balsalmic dressing over the top, and enjoy your superfood loaded plate. (The pictured salad also got a blood orange garnish, because, well, it matched the cranberries in the quinoa. Color coordination optional)
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Superfoods forever: Kale pesto recipe

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Kale pesto

I'm still in the throes of my love affair with kale. Man, I hope this one lasts a while. Every time I eat something with kale I feel all those vital nutrients seeping straight into my cells. I swear my skin looks better because of kale. Kale for breakfast, kale for lunch, kale for dinner. Kale in eggs, kale in smoothies, kale in soup, kale in salad, kale in quiche, kale on pizza. It's been all kale all the time over here for weeks.

I have my health coach Rachael Pontillo of Holistically Haute Wellness to thank for my crush on kale. We've been working together about three months now, and as a result I've made a few subtle (but, I hope, long-lasting) changes to my diet. I start the day with hot water spiked with lemon. I'm focusing on whole grains and avoiding white flour whenever possible. And I'm eating as many greens in a day as I used to eat in a week. All these are good things and will help me live forever. Right? Right.

I've used this kale pesto on pizza and on a grilled cheese sandwich. There might be pasta in my future, even though I'm trying to cut back on wheat. What do you think of alternative-grain pastas, like brown rice pasta? I've been hesitant to try non-wheat pasta - I worry it will be such a disappointment that I'll rebound and eat nothing BUT pasta for days on end. But I'm interested to hear your opinions.

By the way, I threw a bunch of radish tops into this pesto, too. Use what you have. Kale is friendly.


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Kale pesto
Kale makes friends easily with other greens and herbs, so use whatever you have - radish tops, parsley, chard, arugula. This pesto rocks on pizza, pasta, polenta, grilled cheese, or a spoon.
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch Tuscan or curly kale, leaves stripped from stems and roughly chopped (4-6 cups)
  • 1-2 cups arugula, chard, radish leaves, parsley, cilantro, or whatever other greens you happen to have around (optional)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, Romano or Grana Padano cheese (optional, or substitute 2 tsp nutritional yeast)
  • 1 cup pine nuts, almonds or walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
Put the greens, lemon juice, salt, garlic, cheese (if using), and nuts in a food processor with the chopping blade. Turn the processor on and let it run about 10 seconds. Begin pouring the olive oil in through the feed tube. When you've added all the oil, let the processor run another 30 seconds or so, until the pesto is smooth. Store the pesto in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 2 cups

Monday, February 6, 2012

Celebrating Potato Lovers' Month with Idaho potatoes: Valentine's Day potato beet galette recipe

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Potato and beet galette (photo courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission)

There are certain people in my life to whom I try very hard to say yes. Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk is one of those people. Every time Patti has brought me along for whatever ride she's on at that moment, good things have happened. Camp Blogaway. A winter weekend in the Hamptons (she ended up going to Paris instead, but I still got my trip to the beach). A speaking opportunity in San Diego. When Patti says jump, I jump.

That's how I ended up dressed in pink with a bunch of food bloggers on a sunny December afternoon, pretending it was Valentine's Day. The Idaho Potato Commission brought us together to celebrate Potato Lovers' Month, share some delicious potato recipes and mug for the camera. Five bloggers, five spectacular potato recipes, ABBA on the iPod - we had a grand time. The end result was a tabloid-sized page newspapers can grab and use for their Valentine's Day recipe coverage. See me drinking soup out of the ladle?


If you see this in your local newspaper, come back and let me know, okay?

I always think pink for Valentine's Day, so I made an Idaho potato and beet galette. It's super easy, very healthy and simply gorgeous. Scroll down for the recipe, and try out the rest of the group's potato creations too - they were all delicious.



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Potato and beet galette
Thinly sliced potatoes and beets bake up crisp on the outside and creamy-tender in the middle. If you can't find fresh rosemary, try a few pinches of dried oregano or thyme.
Ingredients
  • 2 large Idaho russet potatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small red beets
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6 Tbsp parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated, divided
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and peel the potatoes. Using a mandoline slicer or knife, cut into rounds about 1/8-inch thick.Wash and peel the beet(s). Slice the same way as the potatoes, but put into a second bowl. (Keep the potatoes and beets separate to keep the beets' color from staining the potato slices for a prettier finished product.)Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet on medium-high. When the skillet is hot, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and use a pastry brush to coat the sides.Begin to build the galette in the hot skillet by layering potato slices in overlapping circles until the bottom of the pan is covered. When the first layer is done, sprinkle with a little chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and 2 Tbsp grated cheese. Continue with the second layer, this time overlapping alternating slices of potato and beet. Save big, uniform slices for the third and final layer. (Getting the pan hot before putting in the vegetables helps crisp the bottom.) Sprinkle with more rosemary, salt, pepper, and another 2 Tbsp grated cheese. Continue layering the potatoes and beets until all are used. Add remaining rosemary and grated cheese. Drizzle the top of the galette with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.Cover the pan with aluminum foil, pressing it tightly onto the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium and cook on the stovetop about 10 minutes. You should hear the bottom of the galette sizzling; if not, turn up the heat slightly.Remove foil and place skillet in the hot oven. Bake uncovered about 40 to 55 minutes, until the top of the galette is browned, the edges are crisp, and the vegetables are cooked through (test by inserting the tip of a small knife straight down - you should feel no resistance).When thoroughly cooked, remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Using a heat-proof spatula, loosen the galette from the pan. Slide it onto a cutting board and slice into wedges. Serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8 servings

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Baked tofu sticks

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On the rare occasions when I work at home, I try to have a healthy snack waiting for the kids after school. I cut up fruit and vegetables and put them on the table because I know if the good stuff is sitting right in front of them, they're more likely to eat it.

My active, growing boys also need a little protein to get them through the rest of the day. Last week I experimented with some extra-firm tofu. I was trying to imitate the marinated tofu I sometimes get at Whole Foods. Frankly, I liked my version more. I cut it into smaller pieces, which meant more marinade-glazed surface area. And it was a lot less salty.

One kid liked it, one not so much. I loved it. Hello, new lunchbox snack.


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Baked tofu sticks
The longer you let the batons of tofu marinate, the more the flavors will permeate the tofu. Serve at room temperature for the best texture.
Ingredients
  • approximately 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce or plum sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Instructions
Line a plate with several layers of paper towel. Place the tofu on the plate and cover with several more layers of paper towel. Put a baking sheet on top of the covered tofu, then weight the baking sheet down with a can or two from your pantry. Let the tofu drain for an hour, changing the paper towel once or twice if it soaks through quickly. Pat the blocks of tofu dry and slice them into batons about 1 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, hoisin or plum sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Add the tofu and toss gently so all the tofu is coated with the marinade. Leave to marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to several hours, tossing occasionally.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.Lift the tofu pieces from the marinade and lay them in rows on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake about 40 minutes, turning the tofu slices over halfway through the baking time. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve at room temperature.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Superfoods forever: Baked sweet potatoes with garlicky greens and walnut cream by Eat This Poem

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Today's Superfood: Sweet potatoes
Vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, potassium

Erika says: I've decided a month of Superfoods isn't enough. I'm not abandoning cake forever, but I'm going to continue to post new Superfoods recipes until I get tired of them (never, I hope). Here's a beautiful dish from Nicole Gulotta, who recently ended a four-year relationship with Cooking After Five to launch Eat This Poem, a literary food blog. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and French bulldog.

My other half is a fairly adventurous eater. I never have trouble serving quinoa, brussels sprouts or sardines, and he'll order foie gras in a restaurant without blinking an eye. But we all have our preferences, and for some reason, sweet potatoes are one of the few vegetables he's not enamored with.

It's been my personal mission for the past five years to convince my husband to embrace sweet potatoes, and I've made some progress. When he tasted my sweet potato and cayenne soup, he agreed the spice gave a nice kick and praised the creamy avocado garnish. When I sliced sweet potatoes and crisped them with sage oil, he thought it was festive for the holidays and that they could pass as a side dish. I think my persistence is finally paying off, because after trying my most recent creation, he helped himself to seconds without so much as a single complaint.

While there is certainly a time and place for russet potatoes slathered with sour cream and sprinkled with bacon, sweet potatoes are a much healthier alternative. They can fulfill any baked potato craving, and the bright orange color means their flesh is filled with vitamins A and C. Combined with other super foods like kale and walnuts, this makes for a deceptively healthy, crave-worthy lunch.

Click here for all the Superfoods recipes in this series




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Baked sweet potatoes with garlicky greens and walnut cream
A hearty, healthy vegetarian dinner packed with vitamins.
Ingredients
  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skin on
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 garlic clove
  • crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted in the oven or in a dry nonstick skillet until fragrant
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place on a sheet pan. Bake until tender, about 1 hour; remove from oven. While the potatoes cool slightly, make the kale. Using your hands, remove kale leaves from the stems and tear into small pieces. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Grate the garlic into the oil and cook until fragrant, about two minutes. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. (Add a little crushed red pepper flakes if you like some heat.) Cook until wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.Chop the walnuts and add to the Greek yogurt along with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine.When cool enough to handle, slice each potato in half. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and fluff slightly with a fork. Top with a dollop of yogurt and a handful of kale leaves. Reserve any leftover kale and yogurt for another use.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings