Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whatever You Have Stir Fry

We always have a random bunch of vegetables left over every week form the CSA that I can never figure out what to do with. And most weeks, unless I'm feeling especially creative, they usually all get dumped into a giant stir fry with tofu. But, everything I've tried with this always tastes good! You just have to switch the cooking times and styles based on what you're cooking. You want the vegetables to get nice and brown. So, if you're cooking with a zucchini the size of your forearm (which are the only ones I can find at the farmer's market) you want to cook it a little longer so that it releases its water and browns. Or, if you're making this with eggplant, it will cook a little faster. So far, I've used zucchini, eggplant, green beans, broccoli, and Asian greens, among other things in combination with each other.

Here I'm giving you the recipe for the latest batch we made with zucchini, broccoli, Asian greens. If you follow a similar method, you can try this with anything you have on hand!

One note on making stir fry, you really want to have everything ready to go when you start cooking. Stir fry uses high high heat and cooks everything quickly and you don't want to be mincing garlic while your vegetables burn. Trust me, I know from experience. I've burned many batches of stir fry trying to multitask.

Whatever You Have Stir Fry

2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 zucchini, cut into pieces
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 bunch Asian greens (such as Bok Choy), separated
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 package super firm tofu, cubed and drained
1 recipe stir fry sauce (below)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once the oil is HOT carefully add the zucchini to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, depending on the size and water content of your zucchini, stirring often. You don't quite want to brown the zucchini at this point, but you want to get it close. Add broccoli, and cook for 1 minute. Add Asian greens and cook until wilted. Remove the vegetables from the pan and keep warm.

Add the other tbsp oil to the wok and let it get hot. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add tofu and cook for several minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Next, add sauce and cook, stirring constantly until thick. Return vegetables to the pan, and stir to coat evenly with sauce. Cook together for about 1-2 minutes, until combined and heated through. Serve immediately over white rice.


Stir Fry Sauce
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

2 tbsp cooking sherry
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp corn starch

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Happy Monday morning! I'll be back later with a real post, but in the meantime, I have to share this recipe with you guys. 

Our neighborhood block party started at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. As usual, I was scrambling at 2:45 to try and figure out what to bring to the little gathering. After a quick (OK, hour long) run to the grocery, and frantically throwing together dessert, we finally made it to the party at 5:30. Just in time to snag some of the last hot dogs! It was a great time and we got to meet more of our neighbors. Since the only kids we have a fuzzy creatures with four legs, we don't meet a lot of the neighbors. I think the majority of them get together daily at the little park down the street. And since our dogs bark like they are some sort of yeti-yak hybrid creatures around other dogs, we tend to not make it to the park all the time. And, so even though we've lived in our house for over three years, we still only really know the people that are directly next to us. So it was great to meet more people and put a few names with faces!

Aaaanyway, what I really want to share with you is the dessert I made last night. And I don't hvae any pictures of it (I was frantically throwing it together in 10 minutes so that we wouldn't miss those hot dogs), but it was awesome!

Make these before the peaches go out of season! They're pretty much done here, so hurry!!!

Note: I skipped browning the butter (once again, imagine frantic speed baking) and these were delicious. I'm sure they would be out of the world amazing with that additional step. I just didn't have the time.

Peach Shortbread Bars


P.S. These make an awesome speedy breakfast. Not exactly super health-friendly, but oh well. I'm eating one (or two) of these with my coffee this morning!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mattar Tofu

I loooove me some Indian food. And ever since we started going veg-head, we eat a lot more of it than we used to. Sadly, I didn't eat a lot of Indian food before I came to graduate school. My college didn't exactly scream diverse food options, so while the rest of my high school graduating class was off galavanting with ethnic foods from around the world, I was left with burritos as big as your head and calzones from a palce that had mildly risque slogans scrawled across the walls. Basically, food that one eats while crawling home from the bars with the help of your not-so-helpful-because-they're-in-the-same-boat-as-you friends. Not that I would know from experience or anything. And not that I'm really complaining all that much. Those calzones kicked butt. Especially at 3am. Again, not that I would know that or anything. That was when I was coming home from studying. In the library. Like a good student. Are you listening, Mom? I've simply heard rumors about their combination with (ahem) alcoholic beverages.

Once I came to the wonderful world of graduate school (and moved to a city that was slightly more oriented toward good food... OK, obsessed) there were A LOT more restaurant options. Sushi, Indian, Ethiopian, Jamaican. Name a country and there's probably somewhere around here that will serve it's cuisine to you.

Indian is one of the newer ethnic foods that I've started introducing into our regular rotation. It's full of good healthy things. And I'm always trying to steer you toward those types of things. I'm a good person like that.

This one's my favorite though. Hearty, creamy, full of veggies and spices. Serve it over white rice (or brown if you're really going for that health food kick). This dish is traditionally served with Paneer, a delicious Indian cheese. In an attempt to healthify it though, I used tofu instead. It was recommended in the recipe that I swiped this from. I was skeptical at first because I didn't want anything ruining Mattar Paneer for me, but it was really good! If you want to go all out, and I would completely condone that decision, make it with Paneer instead of the tufu (which you can buy at your local Indian grocery store).

Mattar Tofu
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen Member: Not a Leaf

1 package extra-firm tofu, cubed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder2 tomatoes, rhoughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup water

Heat half of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the Turmeric and mix it into the onions. Add the tomatoes, garlic, grated ginger, Garam Masala and salt. Stir to combine. Next, add the sour cream and mix with the tomatoes until the mixture is a reddish orange color. Add the peas and the water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes to thicken.

Once the sauce has thickened, return the tofu to the pan and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 additional minutes.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Favorite Cookies

I haven't done a lot of desserts here on Dinner From Last Night. I think it's time for a change. Don't you? So let's bust out our mixers and get baking.

I found the recipe for these cookies on the back of a Craisins bag. I think Craisins are hilarious for an extremely random reason. And I feel like sharing that reason with you. Aren't you glad?

Several years ago John and I were on a swing dancing trip with a bunch of friends from our college swing dancing scene. We were lounging around between dances and I took out some of the Craisins I had brought to snack on. You get hungry dancing over eight hours a day and sustenance is important.

As I started eating, one of my good friends, Chelsea, yelled from across the room, "It's these things, these... Craisins." She had a look of sheer awe on her face. Apparently she had yet to experience the dried cranberry craze and the fact that they really existed was absolutely amazing. So use these things, these Craisins and make these cookies. That's an order.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Adapted from Craisins

I always use more white chocolate chunks and Craisins than the recipe calls for. I like chunky cookies. It's just the type of person I am.

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Press the dough with your fingers to make a flatter cookie. If you're more into the rustic chunk cookie, don't press the dough down. They're delicious either way. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday Night Dinner

Ohhh man have we been giving the grill a workout lately. I've been avoiding the oven because not only has it been stiflingly hot, but it's just so humid. The more outdoor cooking I can do in my opinion, the better. Seriously, I might start cooking on an open fire in my backyard. Totally campfire style.

A couple of weeks ago, we had this for dinner:

I'm still drooling.

These vegetables, hands down are my absolute favorite way to consume veggies. Oh grilled marinated veggies, where have you been all summer? I can't believe it took me until August (how is August over already???) to cook these. The recipe is really versatile, so play with it. Have fun. That's what cooking is all about anyway! At least in my opinion.

Grilled Marinated Vegetables
I usually make these with red onions, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. But play around with what you have on hand. I've never made this recipe in any combination that didn't work perfectly.
1 red onion, cut into eighths
1 large zucchini, cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 pound white button mushrooms
1-2 cups balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Add all cut up veggies to a 1 gallon plastic ziploc bag. Pour in dressing and toss the vegetables around to cover. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually just buy bottled balsamic dressing for this, but when I get really ambitious I'll make my own. Just you your favorite balsamic dressing and these will be delicious.

After marinating the vegetables, recruit your friends and family and start skewering. I like to add them so that none of the same things are next to each other. It looks pretty that way and I like to tell myself that this way the flavors will all meld together. But I don't really know what I'm taking about, so skewer to your hearts content.

Grill at medium heat until veggies are cooked, but still firm. Using a papper town, grab the end of the skewer and place the pointy end into a bowl. Using a fork, slide the veggies into the bowl. Or, for a cool presentation, plunk the skewers and all onto the table and let everyone grab one. Just be careful, the skewers will be hot!