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Archive for December, 2010

Pretty to look at, easy to make, tastes really good. Triple play – great meal.

Tofu and broccolini pad siew (from Chow)

1 14-ounce package dried wide rice noodles

14 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 pound broccolini, sliced on the bias into 1″ long pieces

1/4 cup canola oil

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced paper thin

2 large eggs

Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with hot tap water. Soak until loose and pliable, about 30  minutes. Separate noodles by hand and drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, place tofu cubes on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Combine soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, and the brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup water in a large nonstick pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until simmering. Add broccolini, cover, and cook until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and cook, stirring often, until water has evaporated and broccolini is just tender when pierced with a knife, about 2 minutes more. Remove broccolini and set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add oil and heat until shimmering. Add the tofu and saute, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 – 10  minutes.

Reduce heat t o medium, add garlic, and cook until just beginning to color, about 15 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture, noodles, and broccolini, and cook, tossing gently, until noodles are soft, warmed through, and coated with sauce, about 4 minutes.

Push noodle mixture to one side of the pan, add eggs, and scramble until eggs begin to set, about 30 seconds. Let eggs cook undisturbed until solid, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat and toss to evenly combine all ingredients. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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Who doesn’t love scones? Just as I thought – nobody. Almost all scones are made with dairy products – butter, buttermilk, cream, milk – in varying measures. I always enjoy creating great little nondairy adaptations – here, here, and here. Oh, and here and here, too.These egg nog scones sounded so tempting – and at this time of year, it’s quite easy to find Soy Nog on the shelves of my local natural foods store. (btw, I’ve been known to guzzle this stuff by the quart-fuls). Anyway, these were a welcome addition to my scone recipe collection, and will become an annual treat during the holidays.

Cinnamon egg nog scones (from FlamingoBear blog via King Arthur Flour)(modified to be nondairy by me)

Dough:

2 3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup margarine, diced and frozen for 20 minutes

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup soy eggnog

Topping:

1 tablespoon eggnog

1 generous tablespoon cinnamon sugar

1 generous tablespoon sparkling white sugar (I left this ingredient out)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Work in the frozen margarine just until the margarine is the size of peas.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, and eggnog.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Roll and pat each half into 6 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

Using a large knife, slice each circle into 6 wedges. Transfer the circles of wedges to a Silpat sheet. There should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges. This ensures that their sides will bake up soft and tender.

Brush each scone with some eggnog, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and then top with sparkling white sugar.

For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. This half-hour in the freezer relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones taller and more tender. Plus, chilling the fat makes the scones flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the scones for about 20 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm.

 

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Curried corn soup

Curry and corn belong together. They make this soup special. While not my all-time favorite corn soup, this is still quite delicious, and even special occasion-worthy, but so easy to make.

Curried corn soup (adapted nondairy by me, from Williams-Sonoma)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, finely chopped

2 small red potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

5 cups corn kernels

2 teaspoons curry powder

6 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

6 thin lemon slices

1/2 cup soy sour cream

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and all but 1/2 cup of the corn kernels and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a blender or food processor (I used my immersion blender), puree the soup in batches til smooth. Pass the puree through a fine-mesh sieve pressing on the pulp – discard any solids left in the sieve. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, bring a small saucepan 3/4 full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels and cook for 1 minute. Drain and let cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the lemon slices, sour cream, corn kernels, and parsley. Makes 6 servings.

 

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With the cold weather settling in, I need something VERY warm when I get home from work. That’s when I go into soup mode. Here is a quick and easy and flavorful soup to make. I really love ditalini pasta, and it works perfectly in this soup.

Spinach and eggdrop pasta soup (from Food&Wine, with my nondairy adaptation)

1/2 pound ditalini or other small pasta

2 quarts chicken stock

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

5 ounces baby spinach

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated soy parmesan

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer with the garlic; simmer for 3 minutes. Add the pasta and spinach and cook over moderate heat until the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the eggs, breaking them into long strands. Gently simmer the soup until the eggs are just firm, about 1 minute. Stir in the 1/2 cup of soy cheese. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Makes 10 servings.

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My biggest weakness is probably for MiddleEastern cooking. This is perfectly wonderful winter salad, which can be eaten either hot or cold. No matter what the season, the colors are just beautiful, and the flavors work together perfectly.

Eggplant with pomegranate molasses (from Arabesque by Claudia Roden)

2 – 3 eggplants (weighing 2 pounds)

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed

salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

seeds of 1/2 pomegranate

Prick the eggplants in a few places with a pointed knife to prevent them from exploding. Place them on a sheet of foil on an oven tray and roast them in an oven preheated to 475 degrees F for 45 – 55 minutes, until the skins are wrinkled and they are very soft.

When cool enough to handle, peel and drop them into a colander or strainer with small holes. Press them very gently to allow their juices to run out. Then, on a serving plate, cut them up into large pieces and dress them quickly so that the flesh does not have time to discolor.

Mix the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil, pour over the eggplants, and turn them to coat them all over with the dressing.

Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and, if you like, pomegranate seeds. Serves 4 to 6.

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This is stick-to-your-ribs-and-keep-you-warm soup, perfect for today’s temperature – we did not get above the 20s. It’s going to be a long winter – better make some more of this comforting Italian soup standard.

Ribolitta (Italian for “reboiled”)(from Williams-Sonoma)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried white beans, preferably
    cannellini
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for
    drizzling
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 lb. savoy cabbage or 1/3 lb. each kale, Swiss
    chard and savoy cabbage, tough stems
    removed and leaves coarsely chopped or
    shredded
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 slices coarse country bread

To make the beans, rinse them, drain, and place in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, boil for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain and return to the saucepan with fresh water to cover by about 2″. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour. Add the salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove and discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Set the beans aside in their liquid.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, the cooked white beans and their liquid, thyme, salt and pepper, and enough water just to cover the vegetables. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the heat, let cool. (You can cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or for up to 3 days).

Remove the soup from the refrigerator. Layer 2 or 3 bread slices in the bottom of a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Ladle in enough soup just to cover. Repeat the layers until all the bread and soup are in the pan, ending with the soup. Slowly bring the soup to a boil over low heat, stirring often to make sure that the bottom doesn’t scorch and to break up the bread, 20 – 30 minutes. It should eventually dissolve and absorb the liquids completely, forming a very thick soup.

Scoop into bowls and drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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One of my favorite cookbook authors is Claudia Roden, known for her extraordinary Middle Eastern cooking. Here is a dish that is light but filling, and rich in flavors. The recipe calls for preserved lemons, of which I had none, sadly. But it still was a delicious dish; next time, I shall make my own lemons to go with this. A fabulous Moroccan recipe.

Tomatoes stuffed with roast peppers, tuna, capers, and olives (from Arabesque)

4 red bell peppers

salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

one 7-ounce can of tuna, flaked

2 tablespoons capers

4 tablespoons chopped black olives

peel of 1/2 preserved lemon, chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

6 large tomatoes

Place the peppers on a sheet of foil on an oven tray under  preheated broiler, 2 1/2 – 3 1/2″ from the broiler. Turn them until their skins are black and blistered all over. To loosen skins further, put them in a pan with a tight-fitting lid for 10 – 15 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and remove and discard the stems and seeds. Now cut the peppers into strips about 3/4″ wide. Mix with the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes.

Cut a small circle around the stalk of each tomato and cut out a cap. Remove the center and seeds with a pointed teaspoon. Fill the cavities with the roast pepper mixture and replace the caps. Arrange in a shallow baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are a little soft. Makes 6 servings.

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