Friday, April 24, 2015

Ricotta and Tomato Pie

It seems to me that a lot of the things I cook need some sort of moisture squeezed out of them. It could just be that yesterday was tofu and today was tomatoes, but still. I know quite a few people who like myself have texture issues. I love tomatoes, but don't ask me to eat the gelatinous seed goop. In order to avoid it, I simply seed my tomatoes by gently poking them with my finger. The goop squirts out. It's oddly satisfying. 

We're growing tomatoes in the garden this year and I have plans for gazpacho. Homemade is so delicious. If you are ever blessed with a bounty of tomatoes and decide to make your own gazpacho, seed the tomatoes and save all of the goop and spare bits. This can all be thrown in the food processor, whirled up, and strained through cheesecloth to get the most delicious tomato juice for the gazpacho. There's your million dollar idea for the day. 

This is what I made for dinner this evening along with a super simple salad and beer bread with cheese in it. There were peas too, but as much as I tried to, I just could not psyc myself up enough to eat them. I hate peas. There is only one way I'll eat them- raw, and straight from the pod while standing in the garden. 

The tomato pie was delicious- and since I gently pressed the tomato slices it was not watery! Brilliant!

The pie, in all its glory. I was gifted a salt and herb grinder from Trader Joe's. Next time I make this I will grind a little more on the top. The Rosemary was a lovely accent. 

Salad- baby lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and slivered almonds.

Beer bread. I stuck some cheese sticks in the middle. It was super tasty. Usually, I use Guinness because it's what I drink, but today there were a few bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale sitting on the counter, so that's what I used. I liked it better. The bread had this lovely sweetness to it. So yummy. 

Beer Bread

3 cups of flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1tsp salt
12 oz beer

1. Mix the dry stuff together.
2. Pour the beer in. 
3. Watch it foam (this usually makes me chuckle. I'm easily amused.)
4. Mix together.
5. Scoop into a 9x5 greased loaf pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. 

You can add cheese or herbs to it if you like, but it's perfectly yummy without anything added. I recommend using a darker beer like a Guinness or Newcastle because they have a depth of flavor that an IPA or light colored beer just can't stand up to. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Been A Long Time

Recently I have been lamenting the way we've been eating as a family since the twins were born- way too much processed food, way too much food that is high in fat and calories, too little vegetables. I want my kids to have a varied diet and to try all sorts of foods, stovetop and Au gratin potatoes from a box are easy to make, but not what I really want my family eating a whole bunch of. Also, as the lone vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters I generally eat like someone who forgot to put the main dish on their plate. And I'm tired of being that vegetarian. So, last night I actually sat down and planned the next week's worth of meals. It took me hours. I dawdled and doodled. I hemmed and hawed. But I managed to come up with seven meals. 

Tonight we're having orange tofu with broccoli and rice. Super simple.

I'm using a new to me kind of tofu. It's currently under my super heavy cutting board getting all the excess water pressed out. 

It's under there. Really. It is.

Orange tofu with rice and steamed broccoli

1 block of tofu- pressed, then cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 Tbsp corn starch 
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or sesame oil 
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Smear oil on bottom of a 13x9 glass pan.
3. Put corn starch, onion powder, and garlic powder into a bag with the tofu and shake to coat. 
4. Shake off the excess starch mixture and place the tofu cubes in the pan. 
5. Spray the tops and fb the cubes with cooking spray. This way all of the sides will get nicely browned. 
6. Bake 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to prevent over browning. 
7. When the tofu is lightly browned, scoop it out of the pan and place it in a few sheets of paper towels to wick away any oil. 

Orange sauce

1 cup orange juice (I used navel oranges and squeezed them myself.)
the zest of one orange (cut off in strips- you can do this with a big knife. In my opinion it tastes so much better than grated zest.)
2 Tbsp corn starch 
3/4 cup vinegar (rice or white)
1/3- 1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger (fresh would be nice too)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

1. Mix the corn starch into the orange juice.
2. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. When the sugar is fully dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Bring to a gentle bubble and reduce until nicely thickened. 
4. Toss the tofu in 1/4 cup of the sauce and gently heat in a skillet. 

I served the sauce in a bowl on the side so everyone could have as much or as little as they wanted. 

Here's the lowdown: 
The tofu was nice and firm with a crispy coating. The sauce was sweet, fruity, and mild. It was tasty on the tofu, as well as on the broccoli. If I wasn't cooking for three small children, I would have added an nice shot of sriracha. I liked it. Rob liked it. The wee ones liked it. That being said, it needs a little tweaking. But more on that later. 

There are no leftovers. Ok. There are two broccoli florets and about a cup of rice, but that doesn't count. I used one block of tofu, two large broccoli crowns (about 3 cups), and two scoops of rice in the rice cooker (I have no clue what this translates to). Rob and I each had 1/3 of the tofu- the rest was split between the babies and Liam. Violet and Eliza can feed themselves now, and it is wonderful. They sat in their highchairs, happy as can be, and ate everything I put in front of them. Then, after they were done they went over to Rob and stole all of the broccoli in his bowl! 

I'm looking for a recipe for takeout Orange Tofu/ Orange Beef. Whatever. This is not that recipe. I want to recreate scrumdidilyumptious sweet, sticky, saucy perfection. Every recipe I find online calls for Chinese five spice- I find this concoction to be offensive. I have no idea what is in it, but there is no way on Earth that it's in my favorite takeout. No. Way. Stop fibbing, Internet. Stop fibbing. 

Oh, one more thing. My tofu... It was grey. 

But tasty.