Red Curried Tofu

16 Jun

Red curried tofuI hosted a lunch meeting last week and one of the guests was a gluten-free almost-vegan (well, maybe she’d eat one egg, she told me). I figured my best bet would be an Asian vegan dish.

I got this recipe from a magazine – which one I do not know, possibly the late, lamented Cooking Light – and I really like it. It’s fast and easy to make, tasty and healthy. According to the recipe, it has only 292 calories per serving, 7 grams of fat and 3.5 grams of fiber so it’s a good Weight Watchers choice. We don’t like cilantro, so we substitute parsley.

This dish is very flavorful and nicely spicy. The heat comes from the Chinese chili paste, so if you don’t like it hot, use less (or even none) and if you like a lot of heat, use a little more.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown rice
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2½ cups onion, sliced vertically
1 cup yellow or red bell pepper strips
1½ tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. honey
½ tsp. Chinese chili paste with garlic
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 12-15 oz. package firm or extra-firm reduced fat tofu
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro (or parsley)
¼ cup chopped dry-roasted cashews

Directions:

Drain the tofu and wrap it in a clean dish towel. Place a dish or bowl on top to weight it down slightly and leave it while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cook the rice as you normally would or according to the package directions.

While the rice is cooking, in a small bowl, combine the curry powder, coriander, turmeric and salt. In another small bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey and chili paste.

Heat sesame and vegetable oils in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper strips and sauté about 4 minutes until tender. Stir in curry, coriander, turmeric and salt, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, then the soy sauce mixture.

Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and add to the skillet. Stir well so that the every piece of tofu is coated with sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two minutes or until thoroughly heated.

(If you want to prepare this ahead of time, do the tofu mixture first. Reheat it just before you’re ready to serve.)

Serve over rice, and sprinkle the chopped cilantro (or parsley) and chopped cashews on top.

Serves 4

Chicken with apples and caramelized onions

6 May

Adapted from a recipe in the Detroit Free Press (many years ago), which says it was “from and tested by the Chicago Tribune.”

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1 medium tart apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the broiler or a grill pan.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the apple, balsamic vinegar, honey and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apple slices soften and the onions caramelize, about 10 minutes.

While the onions and apples are cooking, season the chicken and broil, turning halfway through cooking, until cooked through, about 12 minutes total.

Cut the chicken lengthwise into slices and transfer to plates. Top with the onion-apple mixture.

Serves 2

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

27 Mar

Chicken SoupI’m not one of those rabid Instant Pot fans, but I have been pleased with the results the few times I’ve used it.

A few months ago, when I couldn’t find a satisfactory recipe, I decided to invent my own way to make chicken soup in the Instant Pot. I found it was even easier and even tastier than my standby “Cheater’s Chicken Soup.”

Please note that this is not a recipe as much as a method. The exact ingredients may vary.

I had a package of frozen “chicken bits” in my freezer — wing tips, backs, tails, necks and other stuff cut from fresh chicken that no one eats.

To add to that, I went to the local kosher supermarket hoping for some chicken feet. When we lived in England when we were first married, the butchers threw the feet in with the chickens, and they really fortified a soup. But they’re very hard to find nowadays. The local kosher mart had them — but they cost more than actual fresh chicken! I decided to skip the feet but found a package of chicken bones neatly tied up in a cheesecloth bag — also exorbitantly priced considering they were bones, but a lot cheaper than the feet. If you can find reasonably priced chicken feet, I highly recommend them.

I tied my defrosted “chicken bitsInstant Pot chicken soup 1” up in a cheesecloth package as well, and did the same with some chunked veggies: onion, carrot, celery, dill and parsley. You could also include a parsnip or turnip.

I put all three cheesecloth packages into the Instant Pot and mooshed them down a bit so everything was below the “fill” line. This time I added a cupful of leftover chicken soup and another cup or so of “chicken juice” from the last roast chicken we made — but don’t worry if you don’t have these on hand, they are totally optional. The “chicken bits” and bones are more important.

I added water up to the Instant Pot fill line, closed the lid, hit the “Soup/Broth” button, and an hour later had a potful of delicious soup — about three quarts. That hour included the time needed to get the pressure up, the cooking time, and the time to release the pressure. And the kitchen smelled great!

After cooling the contents of the pot, I removed and discarded the cheesecloth bags. Depending on what your “chicken bits” consist of, you may find some chunks of meat you can pull off and add to the soup. The veggies will be too mushy to save; if you want to serve carrots, celery, turnip or the like with your soup, cook them when you reheat the soup before serving.

The first time I made soup this way, when I didn’t add any leftover soup or “chicken juice,” I needed to add just a teaspoon or so of chicken stock powder to make it sufficiently strong. (Alternatively, I could have boiled it for awhile to concentrate the flavor.) The second time it was fine as it was.

Instant Pot chicken soup 2You may want to strain the soup into a Dutch oven or soup pot but if you use cheesecloth bags for your ingredients, there’s really no need. It is a good idea to let the soup sit in the fridge overnight so that any excess fat can rise to the top to be skimmed off.

Add salt and pepper to taste (if you use kosher chicken bits, juice, etc. you probably won’t need salt, but a little ground black pepper is nice.) You can also add dill and parsley at this point if you didn’t put them in your vegetable cheesecloth package.

Serve with cooked noodles, matzoh balls, kreplach, gyoza or any other kind of dumpling.

Hamentaschen

13 Mar

(It’s that time of year again! I thought it might be a good idea to reprise my blog about hamentaschen.)

Hamentaschen 4

These fruit, nut or poppy-filled cookies are popular on the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. This year, Purim falls on March 21

The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish, and in Hebrew, they’re called “oznei Haman” — Haman’s ears!

My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver.

In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen” and I realized Judy Davis was the married name of Ida Silver’s oldest child, a few years older than me. But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down – she worked at the University of Massachusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted the recipe was not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it,” she wrote. “I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

Indeed it is! My children always enjoyed my hamentaschen – at some point, each of them served as my baking assistant. Now they are making the same recipe. And in all humility, I say that I know only one friend who has a recipe for hamentaschen as good as these. The cookie is tender, and the honey and lemon give it a nice flavor.

I usually double the recipe, though now that the children are out of the house and we are retired (with no office colleagues to share goodies with), I am going back to making a single batch. I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I do what my mother did: cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

Use Solo brand pie filling or similar; regular pie filling is too runny and will make the hamentaschen soggy.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit, nut or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not sticky

Hamentaschen 3

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour to prevent sticking). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

 

 

Oven “fried” zucchini

5 Mar

zucchini oven friedHere’s a nice way to make zucchini that even vegetable haters will love! You’ll want to slice the zucchini about a quarter-inch thick. That sounds really specific, but it doesn’t have to be. I was trying to figure out how to say “not too thin, not too thick” so I looked on a ruler and a quarter-inch seems about right. The point is, you want the slices to not fall apart when they’re baked, but you don’t want them to be so thick that they won’t cook all the way through quickly.

For the breadcrumbs, a mixture of panko and regular breadcrumbs is good. If you don’t have seasoned breadcrumbs, just add some parsley, a grind of black pepper, a sprinkle of garlic powder, a pinch of paprika, and a pinch of any other herbs you like.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally
1 egg, beaten
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
non-stick cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray or oil. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.

Dip each zucchini slice in the egg, drain off excess, and then roll the slice in the breadcrumbs and place it on the baking sheet.

When all the slices are on the sheet, spray the tops lightly with oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Baking times may vary, depending on your oven. Both sides should be golden brown.

 

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

19 Feb

hot fudge pudding cake

You may be wondering why I don’t share recipes more often. There’s a simple explanation. This is a blog of my favorite recipes. I’ve been writing it for several years. Most days, there are just two of us for meals. Over the course of this blog’s life, I’ve used most of my actual favorite recipes. (If you’re new to the blog, go back and look at some of the older entries.) Most of my recent posts have not been old standbys but new recipes that I like a lot (and remember to photograph).

This one, however, is an oldie-but-goodie. We rarely make desserts except when we have company. Most of our company meals feature a chicken or meat main course; in our kosher home, that means no dairy desserts. So while I love this recipe, I don’t make it very often. (You can make it vegan, but I don’t think it would taste as good.)

The directions will probably sound odd. While the cake bakes, the top layer turns into a rich pudding that sinks to the bottom of the dish. When you serve it, invert each piece onto a serving plate and it will be topped by a yummy, fudge-y sauce. Serve it warm, even right out of the oven. It’s terrific with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

1¼ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk, soy milk or water
3 tbs. melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir flour, sugar, 2 Tbs. cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the milk, melted butter or margarine and 1 tsp. vanilla and blend well. Pour into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan or a small casserole dish and spread evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle the mixture over the cake batter. Combine the boiling water and 1 tsp. vanilla and pour over the top of the cocoa-brown sugar mixture. Do not stir!

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8

 

Thai-Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

28 Jan

img_4880 (2)

Here’s an absolutely delicious soup from my recipe blogger friends at MediterrAsian.com. It’s smooth and creamy without being heavy (because it uses coconut milk instead of cream), and it has lots of beta carotene and fiber.

“Thai-spiced” here means flavorful, not spicy.

The recipe calls for 8 oz. of coconut milk, plus a little more for garnish. The can had 13.5 oz. What was I going to do with a half-cup of leftover coconut milk? I just threw it all in.

The original recipe calls for chopped cilantro on top. We don’t like cilantro, so we used chopped scallions. You could also use chives or parsley. And I whizzed it with an immersion blender. I used chopped cashews on the top, but then I noticed that the MediterrAsian folks used whole cashews for garnish. I also had roasted salted cashews on hand so I used those, and the soup was not at all salty, so if that’s what you’ve got, I say use ’em!.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 scallions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1½  Tbs. Thai red curry paste
28 oz. (800g) sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk, plus 4 Tbs. for garnish
½  cup roasted unsalted cashews, plus extra for garnish
3 Tbs. fish sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro for garnish (or parsley or scallion or chives)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add the sweet potato, stock, coconut milk, cashews, fish sauce and brown sugar, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are very soft. Remove from the heat and cool a little.

Puree the soup until smooth in two batches in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender.

Return to the pot to reheat, and stir in the lemon juice.

Serve in bowls with a swirl of the reserved coconut milk, and garnish with cilantro (or parsley, scallion or chives) and reserved cashews.

Serves 4 to 6

Smoky Brussels Sprouts

30 Nov

brussels sprouts, smoky

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I get a lot of my best recipes from Cooking Light magazine, which I have subscribed to for years. So I was devastated to see a notice in my most recent issue that it would be the last issue! Because my subscription still has about two years to go, I will instead get something called Eating Well, which they promise will have lots of the same features as Cooking Light. Color me cynical.

Meanwhile, try this easy and delicious recipe. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, even smoked paprika. The sprouts came out crunchy and with a very nice flavor from the almonds, paprika and vinegar.

Combine the garlic, brown sugar, paprika and salt ahead of time in a small dish; you may want to measure out the vinegar too. This will make it easier to add them at the right time.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped salted smoked almonds

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, brown sugar, smoked paprika and salt. Cook, stirring often for another minute, then remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and serve.

Serves 4

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Tahini

8 Nov

eggplant-tahini-sauce.jpgThis is a good dish to serve as an appetizer, salad, or to accompany a main dish.

If you’ve never used tahini paste, be aware that it behaves in a very weird fashion. Usually the oil separates from the rest in the jar, so before you measure it, be sure to stir it well.

When you add liquid to tahini paste, it gets very stiff. Keep stirring and keep adding liquid (usually water or lemon juice) slowly while stirring until you get the consistency you want. It should be easily spreadable but still thick, a little like sour cream.

You can prepare this several hours in advance of serving and just keep it at room temperature.

Ingredients:

1 large clove garlic
Pinch salt
⅓ cup tahini paste
2 Tbs. lemon juice
⅓ cup water
4 to 6 small eggplants (“Italian” are good, or baby eggplants)
¼ cup olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
4 sprigs rosemary
¼ cup chopped parsley
Kosher or coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 to 4 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Mash garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle until it forms a puree.

Combine tahini paste, garlic and lemon juice; the tahini will become stiff. Whisk in the water until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roast the eggplant: cut each eggplant in half and score the flesh with the tip of a paring knife in a cross-hatch pattern at 1-inch intervals.

Place eggplant halves on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, cut side up, and brush each with oil, letting each brushstroke get absorbed before brushing on more. Season with salt and pepper and put a piece of rosemary on each.

Roast eggplant until completely tender and well charred, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Toast pine nuts in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently (be careful, they burn easily).

Arrange the eggplant halves on a serving platter and spread with tahini sauce. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, parsley and rosemary, and drizzle with a little additional olive oil (optional).

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Minestrone

20 Oct

minestroneThis yummy recipe is adapted from The Italian Kosher Cookbook, published in 1965 by Ruth and Bob Grossman. It’s actually part of a larger volume called The Kosher Cookbook Trilogy, which also includes Chinese and French sections. The recipes originated with Ruth’s Grandmother Slipakoff, who collected recipes for Chinese favorites and figured out how to make them kosher. Then she did the same for classic Italian and French dishes.

The authors say Grandma’s favorite Yiddish saying was “As men lebt, d’lebt men alles” (“As I live, I see everything.”)

The recipes all have cutesy Yiddish-inflected titles. This one is called “Minestrone Della Contessa Goldfarb.” And cutesy Yiddish-inflected directions, like “Let it cook for another 20 minutes and it’s ready to serve to an army. But don’t worry, it keeps nice in the refrigerator.”

I make this with vegetable stock, but you can use beef stock if you prefer.

The hardest part of the recipe is making sure you have all the many vegetables on hand.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts meat or vegetable stock
1 cup cut-up green beans
1 small can tomato paste
a handful of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can light red kidney beans or cannellini beans
2 small zucchini, sliced (if using a larger zucchini, dice it)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (no need to peel new potatoes)
¼ small cabbage, shredded (or use a cup or two of packaged shredded cabbage)
“Enough salt and pepper so it will have a taste”
1 cup elbow macaroni, soup shells or other small pasta

Directions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, saute the onions until soft. Add the stock and everything else except the pasta.  Stir well to make sure the tomato paste gets blended in.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the soup seems too thick.

Add the pasta and cook at least 10 minutes longer, until the pasta is tender, then serve.

Serves at least 12