Squeaky Peanut

"Dot takes on the Domestic Diva"

Inedibles and Tofu Bowls February 19, 2011

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 10:22 AM
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This week I tried two recipes from Power Foods, a snack and a main dish. One was successful, and one was dangerous.

First, the snack, titled Crunchy Split Pea Bites. Oh, they were crunchy, all right. This involved soaking one and a half cups of green split peas in three cups of water for four hours. At that point you drain and dry them. Since I was not about to polish each pea individually, I just spread them out onto a paper towel to dry. Actually, two paper towels, because that is a ton of peas, in case you didn’t realize. They took forever to dry; by the next morning they were still damp, but I was already over the whole thing so I decided to finish them off so I could take them to work as a snack.

Half a batch of the peas were sautéed in a mixture of canola oil and sesame oil until they got browned and crispy, about 8 minutes. Then they were drained on paper towels and sprinkled with salt. They were ok–they didn’t have much flavor, so The Husband ground up some herbs de Provence on his, which he thought helped somewhat. The biggest problem was that some of the peas were still as hard as they were before soaking, and we were afraid we’d break a tooth on one. I threw out both the cooked half, and the uncooked half. Luckily, peas are inexpensive, so it’s not like we ruined an expensive duck breast (Martha!).

I was cautiously optimistic that the Brown Rice with Tofu, Dried Mushrooms and Baby Spinach would be good because it appeared to have a lot of seasoning,  and we liked most of the Asian-inspired foods in Dinner at Home.

The recipe was pretty easy–cook 1.5 cups of brown rice (the recipe called for short grain, but I used long and it was fine) in 2.75 cups of water with a half ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms, 1 T ginger, 4 minced garlic cloves, a crumbled dried red chile, and salt. When done (50 minutes), remove the pan from the heat and toss in a half package of drained and diced extra-firm, drained tofu, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. At the end of the fifteen minutes, you are supposed to be able to toss in 3 ounces of baby spinach and have them wilt in three minutes.  This didn’t happen, because the pan was no longer hot enough. I had to put it back on low heat and leave it until the spinach wilted, which also meant the rice started to stick.  After the spinach finally wilted, I mixed in several chopped scallions, cilantro (I used dried, since we didn’t have any fresh), 2 T + 1t of tamari soy sauce (low-sodium), 1.5 T of rice vinegar, and 1 t of sesame oil.

This had quite a nice flavor. The Husband added more garlic to his, but I thought it was super garlicky. In fact, later that night I could not get the garlic and scallion taste out of my mouth, even with vigorous teeth brushing. So, maybe this is not a good dish to take to your book club or on  a date, but it’s otherwise recommendable.

Scores:

Split Peas:  D  Both bland and too many inedible bits

Rice Bowl:   A-

 

 

Miso Happy! (Until the house nearly burned down.) October 11, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 6:27 PM
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Meal No. 40: Tofu and Scallions in Mushroom Broth: Miso-Glazed Fish Fillets; Sesame Brown Rice and Cabbage; Caramelized Persimmons, available on Martha Stewart’s site. I think she has published nearly everything in Dinner at Home on her site. I guess she doesn’t need the money from book sales.

Although I made one of the fall recipes back in the summer, due to its okra content, this week officially kicks off the Fall Menu section of the book. This menu isn’t the first in the section, but since I saw persimmons at Whole Foods, I decided to make this menu while I could.

Soup:

Luckily, I only made a half batch. I didn’t want to waste the entire package of dried shiitake mushrooms on the broth if the soup was going to be awful. I didn’t think it was awful, but it wasn’t great. I think it was missing something; it was made with mushroom broth, tofu, scallions, rice vinegar and soy sauce. The Husband actively disliked it.  It wasn’t as bad at the soup from the Spectral Beasts post.

 I was irritated that the mushrooms were strained out after cooking in the water. So wasteful, that Martha. We are holding onto them–maybe I will throw them in some scrambled eggs or something.

Miso-Glazed Fish Fillets:

This was much better!

 The glaze was supposed to be a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin (Japanese sweet rice cooking wine), white (shiro) miso, and sugar. I went to the local Asian supermarket and they only seemed to carry Chinese sweet rice cooking wine. Was it the same thing? I don’t know, and got spooked by the warning on the label: Do Not Use for Beverages! Also, the fact that the ingredients listed “edible alcohol” on some bottles, and “ethyl alcohol” on others. So, I passed.  I forgot to look elsewhere so when it came time to cook it I used some sweet vermouth that we had on hand. It turned out fine. I heated the mixture until the sugar melted, then smeared it on some halibut filets and broiled them for about 7 minutes.

This turned out quite well! I think I would use less sugar next time, but I will probably make these again. I have a big tub of miso to use up, after all.

Sesame Brown Rice and Cabbage:

This was also a winner! But you have to disregard Martha’s crazy brown rice cooking instructions, which say the rice will be cooked in 25 minutes.  Ha ha ha haha. Anyone who has ever cooked brown rice knows it takes at least 3 days.

Some Napa cabbage was sautéed in grape seed oil along with garlic and ginger, then removed to a bowl. The rice was browned in the oil briefly, then mixed with water and salt to boil then simmer. A month later the rice was done, and the cabbage mixture was tossed back in along with some rice vinegar and sesame seeds. I didn’t think about browning the seeds until just now but I bet it would be tasty.

This had a very nice flavor, and went well with the fish. I could also see using this in a fried rice sort of dealie. There is no photo of it, as it lacked color and visual interest.

The sole problem is that it only used one cup of the enormous Napa cabbage I bought. What to do with the rest of it?

Caramelized Persimmons:

I don’t know anything about persimmons, including how to pick a ripe one. The cashier said the gnarlier they are the riper they are. It didn’t really look gnarly, but there was some black stuff that looked suspiciously like mold on the stem. How appetizing.

These were to be halved, spread with honey and broiled, then topped with a squirt of lime juice. What actually happened is that the honey slid off the slices, ran into the pan and burned under the broiler, filling the stove and kitchen with smoke. Now the house smells like burnt marshmallows.

To serve, a mixture of mascarpone cheese, vanilla and more lime juice was dolloped atop the persimmon. What is mascarpone cheese doing in a Japanese menu?!?! The recipe, by the way, calls for 9 oz of mascarpone but my container held 8 oz. Lucky for me I only planned to make a smidgen.

The flavor was ok, I suppose. I am not one to enjoy hot fruit unless there is some crust or strudel along with it. It kind of  reminded me of peaches and cream, without the peachy flavor, but with the texture of an apple. I can’t describe it.

OVERALL:

The important items–the fish and rice, were a hit. The soup and dessert were not. I would buy an Asian cookbook from Martha if it were all entrees–they seem to be her best recipes in this cookbook, believe it or not.

Soup: C-

Fish:  A

Rice:  A 

Persimmons: D   (the score was marked down for execution)

 

And Another Thing… July 11, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 7:39 PM
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You know what else irks me about this menu? The broiled tofu calls for one and a half packages of tofu, for 4 people. Why not just use two, Martha?! Why not just be generous and give your family or friends an extra slice? Or be stingy and use just one container? Because what am I supposed to do with half a block of tofu? If anyone suggests tofu scrambled “eggs” you will be summarily unsubscribed from this blog.  I don’t get the point of those–they don’t taste anything like an egg. And what is the vegan’s problem with eating eggs, anyway?  What is the harm in eating an egg from a truly free-range chicken, that gets to roam around eating bugs, pooping wherever it wants, and biding its time until it gets carried off by a hawk (true story)? Those eggs won’t ever be chickens, so just eat the damn things. 

******************** 

Since I had already purchased the tofu and apricots, I figured I should just make the stupid meal. I had an errand at the mall and found some organic soba noodles at nearby Fresh Market, where they were $35.  Ok, not really. This week’s complete menu is on Martha Stewart’s website, evidently she invited Andie McDowell to make it on her TV show. She is just giving this stuff away, isn’t she? 

Tofu: The tofu was fine, and we liked the texture the broiling gave to it. I have a recipe for Thai-inspired marinated, grilled tofu with a carrot salad from my Weber grilling cookbook that is better. Also, she says to slice the tofu then press it, and everyone knows it’s easier to press it before you slice it. What is her problem? 

Sauce: Didn’t we make this a while back? Almost, but the dipping sauce for the sweet potatoes was just lemon and soy sauce, and this also has ginger and lemon peel. It’s good, but salty. The Husband liked it on the noodles. 

Soba Noodles: Martha is very, very fond of sugar snap peas.  We’ve already used them once, and there’s another recipe that calls for them coming up. I admit they are cute, but they are not the most flavorful things. How about some eggplant or zucchini? I substituted some local green beans. It’s a long story, but I ended up with fewer noodles than the recipe called for, but the full amount of vegetables (including carrot tendrils). The flavor was good, but The Husband thought it needed the dipping sauce, which I thought made it too salty. It could use some garlic. 

Sammy Soba

 

Apricots: YUCK! I think I mentioned that this was my least favorite fruit. The dried ones I had to get for that couscous recipe weren’t too awful, but these were nasty. I used almonds with skins, instead of blanched, because that’s what I had and they tasted weird to me, like they were three days from going rancid. That, paired with the baked apricot, just grossed me out. I had to eat a blackberry hand pie to recuperate. 

You can get with this : 

Or you can get with that: 

 

The Husband thought they were fine. He also pronounces them as APE-pricots, instead of AH-pricots, like I do.   

Last summer I grilled peaches with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on them. They were delicious. We should be doing that, instead. Or watermelon, to help get rid of all the salt we just ate. 

OVERALL: 

The tofu and soba noodles went well together, but it was a lot of salt; I did end up eating some watermelon afterwards. The apricots, aside from being icky, are a weird choice with the other menu items. 

Tofu:     B 

Sauce:   B 

Soba noodles:   B 

Baked apricots:  Since I have a prejudice against them, and suspect the almonds were not right, I will concede to The Husband’s grade of B.   But seriously, they were gross.

 

Meal#3: Kandied Kolored Whatnow? January 24, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 1:13 PM
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Hyphen-palooza! In which Martha offers a Japan-inspired, often-hyphenated meal, where every dish has “about five ingredients and minimal prep.” This is also her first foray into recipes that seem like they were developed in the 21st century. A couple of my friends asked if this cookbook was one of her older ones, from the 1980s, but no, this was published in 2009. She does looks like she’s about 28 on the cover, though.

On a personal note, not a lot of cooking happened last week—I had movie theater popcorn, quesadillas, or eggs for dinner most nights, but my stitches are now out. My Frankenfingers are not yet fully functional and it often feels like something is sawing them in half if they move, or sometimes when they are just minding their own business. (I suspect the nerves are growing back, and the muscle is, too?) so things are easier but not yet ideal.

Enough gross talk, let’s get to cookin’ and hyphenatin’! (more…)