Baking is science and I don't like formulas, but cooking is art and anything goes...and the simpler the better. It's all about less time at the stove and more time at the table. With a forty year passion for food I'm excited to share what I do in the kitchen nearly every day.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

General Tso's Tofu

I have found that no matter how I’m going to prepare tofu it’s best to start by crisping it up first.  Remove the firm tofu from the package and let it drain for at least twenty minutes by simply standing it up on a plate so the water can run out.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan, slice your tofu, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  When your oil is hot toss a few slices of tofu at a time in a bowl of flour knocking off any excess flour before frying.  Make sure you don’t crowd them in the pan as you want them golden brown on both sides, it should take about four or five minutes per side.  Once cooked set them on a paper bag to drain. 
Last night I sautéed some vegetables, added a jar of Trader Joe’s General Tso’s sauce, then when the sauce was hot I stirred in the cooked tofu, simmered for five minutes, and served with rice.  Black bean sauce is another favorite convenience item I buy locally.  The tofu is also great right out of the hot oil with chopped scallions and soy sauce or your favorite hot sauce.  Not sure I've ever had anything that's been fried in oil that I didn't like.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quinoa with Tomatoes and Scallions

There’s a lot about Quinoa I really like, short cooking time, great texture, flavor, and super versatile…not to mention the fact that it’s super healthy.  You prepare it as you would rice but with one and a half cups of salted water to one cup of Quinoa.  Simply bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover for fifteen minutes.  Last night I stirred in some chopped tomatoes and scallions at the end and let it sit for five minutes with the heat off before serving.  It’s endless what else would have worked, mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, pine nuts, olives, dried cranberries, mint, or feta…great opportunity to get creative…and use that can of palm hearts that’s been on the shelf of your pantry for years.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mushroom Pesto

This is perfect for when you get the call saying, “we’ll be by in ten minutes for a glass of wine.”  Chop two garlic cloves with a dash of kosher salt in the Cuisinart before adding a small container of mushrooms, I like the baby bellas but white mushrooms are fine.  Also, I find it helps to chop the mushrooms first so they puree evenly.  While running the Cuisinart slowly pour a steady of stream of extra virgin olive oil into the mixture until you get a pesto consistency, not too runny.  Add some pepper, additional kosher salt, and either grated parmesan or pecorino to taste, pulse a couple of times, then cork your wine, you’re ready to go.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roast Beets with Balsamic Fennel

I love roasting beets simply with a little olive oil and salt, but last night I got a little crazy and added some sautéed fennel and balsamic….really special.  After preheating the oven to 425 degrees cut the ends off of your beats, peel or cut away the skin with a paring knife, cube, then toss with a little olive oil and kosher salt.  Roasting takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  Twenty minutes before serving sauté a chopped fennel bulb until it’s soft and starting to brown around the edges.  Add a chopped garlic clove and a half cup of balsamic vinegar to the pan along with a couple tablespoons of sugar.  When the liquid is reduced by half and starting to get syrupy simply toss together with your roast beets.  If fennel isn’t your thing you could easily substitute an onion or use the balsamic reduction on it’s own.