Archive | February 2012

A Genius Friend

I always like dishes that are both easy to make and easy to make look pretty (was that sentence right?). I went to a friend’s place for dinner one night and she busted out racks of these roasted little finger potatoes flavored with salt. I helped assemble them with a square of smoked salmon, a dash of sour cream and a pinch of dill – easy as hell. They were also pretty filling because potatoes have a nice tendency to sit in your gut like lead.

Healthy and to the Point.

Here’s a meal that’s pretty much protein and empty fillers with seaweed and green onion. It’s another one of those “foundation” meals where you can slap whatever else to accompany the block of tofu – eat it with noodles or rice (or by itself like I do), add a meat, some blanched and julienned veggies or whatever the hell you want and you’re set!

Pictured above is baked tofu (cut into cubes, bake at 400 for about 15 min.) on a bed of seaweed. I’ve also microwaved the tofu when I’m being super lazy. The tofu will expel a lot of water as you heat it so make sure to use a lipped bowl or tray and pad it up with a towel before putting your dish together.

Here’s the seaweed I used – I got it at a Korean market:
There are a bunch of different brands so just know that it should look like this up close:

Soak a tiny handful in hot water for about five minutes. It’s pretty bland, as is the tofu by itself, so make sure you have flavorful sauces ready to go – I’ve used plain just soy sauce, Sriracha, soba sauce and a mixture of soy sauce/rice vinegar/minced garlic/green onion.

Foundations – Polenta

To Polenta. You can be creamy and warm, cold and solid. Hmm, I don’t like where this is going. ANYWAYYYYS. Sunday I made a bunch of polenta and it’s lasting me all week. It’s cheap from bulk bins and takes very little time and effort to make. I find that it also heats really well in the ol’ lazy machine – the microwave. One of the nice things about polenta is that you could add whatever the hell topping you want. I caramelized an onion with some crimini mushrooms, garlic and leftover kale stems (the kale was weird but I wanted to use up whatever I had in the refrigerator). I once made this same topping minus the kale and with roasted cherry tomatoes instead and that was delicious.

Polenta – I doubled this simple recipe from Epicurious. Once the polenta thickened I added about a cup of milk, bit by bit, so it’d be extra creamy, and mixed in about a half cup of parmesan at the end. Add more salt if you’re not afraid of high blood pressure.

Anatomy of a bean bowl

Talk about l-a-z-y. Bean bowls are for when you are too tired or lazy to cook but don’t want to go out and buy. Bean bowls are also healthy, cheap and clean out the pipes. Yeah, I said that. No need to read it twice.

1. Take a can of beans and pour into a microwave safe bowl and heat for three minutes
2. While heating, chop up some roughage – I’ve used lettuce, purple cabbage and arugula. Chop/shred whatever else you want to put in there – I always use green onion and cheese in addition to the lettuce
3. Dump onto beans and top with salsa and hot sauce and crack some pepper. Done.

Weekend = Breakfast!

1. Dill Biscuits: From thekitchn.com. I’ve used Greek yogurt like the recipe asks but sour cream also works. It’s very easy and fast to make and I hate baking so if I can do it, YOU can do it.

2. Poached Egg: Or some kind of egg be it fried or scrambled, but the best is thick gooey yolk combined with the salty salmon. Here’s an easy microwave poached egg trick.

3. Cured Salmon: I originally saw this recipe for cured salmon on The Little Baker SF. There are lots of cured salmon recipes but I liked Baker SF because of the dill and lemon zest – you do not feel like there is too much dill with this amazing meal.

4. Assemble, enjoy with a cup of coffee and a book by the window!

Jajangmyun – Korean/Chinese Black Bean Sauce Noodle

There are a few places that I know of in San Francisco that sells this delicious, shirt-staining-from-the-sauce-splatters dish: San Tung, So and Zazang Korean Noodle. Try it at one of these places if you have no idea what this dish is – they all make theirs a bit differently but you’ll get the gist. Then you can make it at home!

First, you need black bean sauce from any Korean market.

Second, you need noodles that are a bit thicker than ramen but skinnier than udon. Golden Produce on Church and Market sells these bags of fresh noodles.

Now you’re ready for the other stuff:
1 Onion, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1-2 Zucchini, diced
Julienned cucumber for topping
2 tbspn Corn Starch mixed with 2 tbspn warm water
2 tsp Sugar mixed with 1 cup water
5 tbspn Black Bean Sauce

– Use a large sauce pan to saute black bean sauce in some olive oil for a about 3 minutes until it gets thicker
– Add carrots, onions, zucchini and saute until ingredients combine and the veggies are almost cooked
– Add sugar/water and let ingredients combine a bit further
– Add corn starch/water to thicken the sauce
– Simmer sauce to thicken- add a bit of water if it gets too thick or more corn starch if it’s too runny
– Boil noodles, add to a bowl, top with sauce and cucumber

I added some tofu to mine to get some protein and to make it vegetarian. You should add diced pork and shrimp to yours to make it meaty and amazing -just saute this separately and add with the onions.

Spätzle – This is not healthy.

How else is my vegetarian fiance going to get his protein but through cheese and butter? And since we’re trying to get in wedding shape, what better way to do this than a heaping plate of this cheesy dumplings?

This recipe is courtesy of andreasrecipes.com. I ended up doubling everything and using one-and-a-half blocks of cheese – Jarsberg and a gruyere. This dish is surprisingly easy to make with the help of the handy spätzle tool I got from Amazon. Just make sure you let the batter rest before using it up. The sweetness from the caramelized onions really ties the dish together so don’ t skimp!

The salad is just fresh arugula and beets with a simple dressing of salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and minced garlic. Here are some beet cooking tips-

  • Buy beets of about the same size for even cooking time
  • Rinse and dunk in a pot of water and turn the stove on high
  • Keep the lid off and boil until you can get through it easily with a knife or fork, about 40 minutes
  • Peel the skin off with your fingers under cool running water