Summer Tomato Soup

Posted: August 30, 2010 | Author: Bakezilla | Filed under: Bakezilla, vegetarian | No Comments »

Hi guys,

I know that I’m Bakezilla and I’m supposed to tell you all about lovely baked goods… BUT, it’s the summer. And, it’s been a really HOT summer. So, even die-hard bakers like me have been forced to turn off the oven and look for foods that are a little more weather appropriate.

… Like, this tasty chilled tomato soup. I wouldn’t call it a gazpacho, it’s got more of an Italian/French feel. What I can tell you, is that my beau and I came across this, made it, and ate it, we both decided it was awesome.

# 2 1/4 cups tomato juice
# 1 1/3 cups finely chopped tomatoes (about 11 ounces)
# 1/2 cup (generous) finely chopped roasted red bell peppers from jar
# 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
# 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
# 1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
# 1 garlic clove, pressed
# Generous dash of hot pepper sauce
# Fine sea salt
# 4 1/3-inch-thick rounds soft fresh goat cheese
# 6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
# 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Combine first 8 ingredients in large bowl; whisk to blend. Season soup to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled and flavors blend, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Top each with 1 goat cheese round and 3 grape tomato halves. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and basil.


Priest Stranglers

Posted: April 8, 2010 | Author: Bakezilla | Filed under: Bakezilla, vegetarian | 3 Comments »

Did I get your attention? No, I am not advocating asphyxiating any priests. These are a variation of an Italian dish called strangolaprieti, which translates to “priest-stranglers.” Wikipedia tells me they get their name because priests were said to be rather delicate, and that these dumplings (close cousins of gnocchi) are so hearty they might choke them. How funny!

These are on the hearty side, but I’d like to think they’re too delicious to choke anyone. They also demonstrate what an incredibly awesome and practical cooking method that baking can be. Italian dumplings, such as gnocchi, are usually boiled. However, this carries the risk of them falling apart. Believe me, it’s happened to the best of us. One could also fry them, but that would add a lot of fat and calories. Baking them means they taste good, don’t fall apart, and aren’t saturated in oil! Hurray for baking!

To make these, you will need:
- 10 (or more) ounces of fresh spinach
-3 eggs
-1 cup grated Parmesan (or, if you want, Romano, it’s cheaper)
-1/2 cup ricotta (reduced fat would probably work fine)
-1 1/4 cup unflavored bread crumbs
-2 tbs (or more!) fresh basil
-1/3 cup chopped scallions (or a milder variety of onion)
-1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
-salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Preheat to 400. Spray a baking dish or cookie sheet liberally. Rinse the spinach and chop off the biggest stems, don’t stress too much about it. Place it in a large pot/skillet (preferably nonstick!), cover, cook, stirring a couple times, just until it wilts, like 2 minutes. Put in a colander and let it drain.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in all the remaining ingredients except the spinach. I would say it’s safe to use more ricotta and less bread crumbs, the ricotta gets overpowered easily. Once the spinach is cool enough to touch, squeeze some more water out of it and chop it. Stir it into the mixture. Form the batter into balls, about 2-3 tablespoons each (or smaller, if you want). Bake for about 20 minutes, until they strangolaprieti begin to brown.

Serve topped with tomato sauce. I made a very simple one by cooking up onions, garlic, basil and a big can of diced tomatoes together. A high quality jarred sauce would work fine as well. I would stay away from heavier sauces like Bolognese, because these are pretty heavy already and that would be too much. Sometimes people serve these dumplings with pasta as well, I had made a lot, so I skipped the pasta because I didn’t want leftovers forever. That being said, these do store and heat up well.


Dinner Pie

Posted: February 28, 2010 | Author: Bakezilla | Filed under: Bakezilla, vegetarian | 4 Comments »

I like to bake. It’s sort of my thing. But, I also need to eat real food occasionally. And something great is when I can do both. I found a cookbook called “Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven” on sale recently, so it’s from the same person who wrote The Moosewood Cookbook, which is my favorite cookbook, and probably the most famous vegetarian cookbook of all time. So, I adapted her recipe for “French Picnic Tart,” or, as I like to call it, Dinner Pie.

First make a crust. Katzen uses a 10-inch springform tart pan, but I don’t have one so I used a standard 9 inch pie tin. First, mix together 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 stick of butter, either with a pastry cutter or food processor/blender until it looks like a course meal. Then, add a little water, like 2 tablespoons, until it just sticks together. Full disclosure: I used a little too much water, so my crust was a teeny bit mushy. So really use the bare minimum. Mix it together some more, make it into a ball, and put it on a floured surface. Roll it out and press it into your pan. Put it into the fridge until you’re ready for it.

Then, make the filling. When you start, pre-heat the oven to 375. Take about a pound of small red potatoes (get real baby ones if you can) and put them in a saucepan, cover them with water, bring them to a boil, then cover them and cook them for about 12 minutes. While that’s happening, heat up a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet under low heat. Put in a thinly sliced onion and some salt and cook it slowly – 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they’re done, just take them off the heat.

When the potatoes are done, rinse and drain. When you can touch them, slice them up.

Now you’re ready to start assembling the pie. On the first layer, add about a cup of a mild cheese (I used reduced fat swiss). Sprinkle it with some tasty spices, I put on sage and oregano.

Next, put the onions on top, spreading them out.  Then, add the potatoes in an even(ish) layer. Last, add a layer of bell peppers topped with just a little more cheese.

Bake for about 40 minutes. I recommend putting the tin on a cookie sheet to make it more manageable.

This is super rich. It IS French after all. Put it’s tasty. It tastes good hot, warm or cold. Seriously. I recommend serving with a greensalad..

Enjoy some Dinner Pie!


Sunday Brunch, Anyday

Posted: November 14, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: brunch, Johanna, Make-Ahead, Monthly Mingle, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

One of my favorite bloggers recently posted a recipe for Saffron shortbread cookies. And she posted it as a participant in something called the Monthly Mingle. The internet is full of blog events, from Novel Food to Daring Bakers to the BBA Challenge.

This month’s Mingle theme is brunch recipes. Now, I love me some brunch, so I decided that a heck of a time to start participating would be with brunch. So….. away we go!
Breakfast Bread PuddingWhile I love french toast or a good stack of pancakes as much as anybody, I’m much happier to put my energies into a savory brunch, and similarly much happier to eat it. Plus, it’s difficult for me to make a brunch decision out at a restaurant that doesn’t involve cheese or eggs in some way. Unless it’s corned beef hash. And honestly, cheese on corned beef hash would be delicious, but overly decadent.
And yet I digress.
We were out at a party the night before our at-home brunch, and I knew that I would be up early the following morning to go for a run (4.5 miles. ughhh). So, when we got home from the party, I threw together a Breakfast Bread Pudding, which much like a strata, can be left in the fridge overnight, fully assembled, and baked the next morning.
Breakfast Bread Pudding
1. Butter a baking dish. It can be round or oval or rectangular, 9×13 or smaller, or possibly bigger if you scale up. I used a smaller one than I planned, but any baking dish will do, as long as it has 2-inch or higher sides.
2. Tear up half a loaf of crusty bread. We used Pan Paesano from Whole Foods, which has a delicious cornmeal crust, but please feel free to leave whatever loaf of bread you want out on the counter all day, so you can tear it up at night. Rip it into bite-sized pieces, and scatter them evenly over the bottom of the dish.
3. Dice 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic, and saute in 1 tablespoon of butter until soft. Add roughly 8 ounces of chopped crimini mushrooms, and cook until softened and starting to color. Add a pinch of salt, and season with pepper. While the mushrooms and onions cook, halve 3/4 of a pint of grape tomatoes and reserve.
4. Whisk together 6 eggs and 1 cup of milk, and season with salt and pepper. Raid your cheese selection to see what you have left in the fridge. Grate whatever looks good — in our case some leftover Madrigal baby swiss that was used in several recipes, most notably the Most Amazing Mushroom Risotto EVER.  Grate 2/3 of a cup of cheese.
5. When the mushrooms are cooked, sprinkle the mushroom-onion mixture, as well as the tomatoes, over the bread chunks. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Pour in the egg mixture, and press everything down into the bottom of the baking dish. This is literally the most disgusting combination of sound and feeling ever, but persevere. Top with the rest of the cheese.
6. At this point, you could cover the bread pudding, and stick it in the fridge overnight. Otherwise, you could put it directly into a 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

You bring the champagne. I'll bring this.Call your friends up, and tell them to bring the mimosas.

Or, y’know, change out of your sweaty running clothes, thank the heavens for boyfriends who remember to put the food in the oven, and settle down on the couch with a plate of this and a cup of coffee. Your house will smell gorgeous and you will be eating a delicious meal. I suppose there might be more to life, but around 11am, I couldn’t think of a darn thing.


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p.4

Posted: November 3, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, cheap, delish, Johanna, Rachael Ray, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

We’re back, with another installment of Alex Runs, Joh Cooks. This time around, we’re doing a straight up pasta dish. As always, the rule is that I will donate money for every single comment I get from you guys, up to 2 comments per e-mail address per post. So type away, tell me what you think, say the word “Duck” or “pants” or “filbert”. It all counts. Together we can fight cancer!!! Also – if you want to just throw some money at Alex on your own, DO IT!!!!!

Pasta with Swiss Chard and Lemon-Ricotta Cheese This recipe, I know Alex will enjoy. I hope you all do too. I borrowed it from Rachael Ray, and tweaked it a bit.
It bears strong resemblances to my Lemon-Ricotta Orzo, which Alex enjoyed when she was here back in July, and which I think everybody loves, because how can you not love lemony ricotta cheese, and pasta???

Even better, this version uses whole wheat penne rigate, which is high in fiber and heart-healthy whole grains, and Swiss Chard, which is a member of the leafy green family and can help you get some more fiber, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants into your life. You can’t beat that bargain. :)
Whole Wheat Penne with Swiss Chard and Lemony Ricotta.

1 pound Whole Wheat short-cut pasta (penne, penne rigate, rigatoni, cellantani, cavatappi, campanelle, orechiette, the possibilities are endless)
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1 small yellow onion – chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (or to taste).
1 bunch Swiss Chard, cleaned and coarsely chopped (cut off and toss out any super thick stems, but otherwise just run them under some water and chop them up)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk or otherwise, if you must, but I’d recommend the whole diary fats. yum!)
1 lemon
Grated Parm, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta al dente (or a little past if you’re like me. no biggie).
2. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, salt, pepper and red pepper flake, and cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the onions are mushy and turning a little brown on the edges.
3. Add the swiss chard, toss, and let the heat make the chard wilt. Once it does, crank the heat to high, and add the veggie stock and a ladle of the pasta cooking water.
4. Bring the liquid in the skillet to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 6-7 minutes. While that’s happening, combine the ricotta with the zest of the lemon, and some salt and pepper. Put 1/4 cup ish in each serving plate, or y’know, however much looks good to you.
5. Drain the pasta. Squeeze the lemon juice over the Swiss Chard, and throw all the pasta in. Toss everything around to get it nice and coated, and get the flavors mingling. Turn off the heat and add about a cup of the parm, and toss again.
6. To serve, plop the pasta/chard mixture on top of the lemony ricotta cheese, and sprinkle with more parm if you’re like me and can’t get enough. Stir, breathe in, and get that hint of lemony goodness and the joy of some dark leafy greens.

This is probably the best pasta dish for you if you’re trying to be good about not eating too much, because if you fail to moderate, you’re eating something PACKED with nutrients, healthy stuff, and yum. Who doesn’t love that?? Plus, the carbs will fuel your next run, and the protein in the greens will help bolster your energy for a longer burn.


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, pt.3!!!

Posted: November 1, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, cheap, Johanna, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Just when you thought it was safe….. here comes another awesome and delicious vegetarian recipe, designed to help Alex run better, help her eat better, and help us fight cancer better. Please remember that for every comment with at least a name (that’s right, you can leave me the word “yum” and I’ll take it), I will donate to Alex’s cause. Her Half Marathon is coming up VERY SOON so we’re going to have a small blitz of recipes to keep her full and focused, and try to raise the donation total.

Vegetable Quinoa Salad I get really, really fired up about grains. I love them, and I love when they surprise me. Sometimes you read things about brown rice that surprise you. Sometimes, I order Barilla Plus multigrain pasta and it turns out to be the most delicious thing ever.

And then….. there’s quinoa.

Quinoa is basically a superduper grain. It’s high in fiber, it’s high in protein, it’s gluten-free, and it’s basically remarkable. The only thing you really need to know about it is that in order to get the most out of it, you need to soak it for a few hours in some water before you cook it. Otherwise, it’s easier and quicker to cook than rice, better for you than couscous (which is really just tiny pasta crumbs), more balanced than polenta, and delicious! Plus, it has a very interesting texture, and it’s super versatile.

To wit: I made Vegetable Quinoa salad. This isn’t really a hard-and-fast recipe, because you can change this up to fit what’s in season, what looks good, what you want to put in your vinaigrette, etc. Play around with it.

1 cup quinoa, soaked in cold water, and rinsed thoroughy
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, cut into cubes, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted at 375 until soft
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives (or other salty black olives) pitted and chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar (I used some lovely blackcurrant balsamic that I spent a fortune on but any type is fine)

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil (covered). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Combine olive oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl, season to taste, until you have a vinaigrette. You’re going to need to make a lot, because Quinoa will absorb a TON of dressing. Add in the squash, tomatoes, olives, and golden raisins. Season with salt and pepper.
When the quinoa has finished cooking, let it cool a little, and then toss it with a fork like you would couscous. Add the quinoa to the bowl with the veggies and vinaigrette, and stir to combine. Eat. Enjoy.

This is great with the quinoa still warm and the veggies all cool. It’s great with everything cold. It’s good to add to, because if you realize you need to use up your slivered almonds before they go bad, they’ll taste great in here. Have some steamed or sauteed kale or chard left over?? Toss it in, and enjoy. Like tofu or want some extra protein? Throw it in!

This makes a TON, and you can eat it for several days by fixing things. Plus,it feels light, so if you’re tapering you’re not going to feel guilty because you have a lead weight in your stomach.
The things I do for you…..
Comments = Dollars for Cancer Research!!! Hit it up!


It's AlIIIIIIIIIIIIVEEEEE

Posted: October 29, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Chicken, Johanna, Silliness, vegetarian | 2 Comments »

Hello friends! As you may have noticed over the past week, PGUK has had some serious troubles. Most of them stemming from server issues.

However!!! We are back, live, and with no lost content! So never fear, your favorite lady bloggers (we ARE your favorites, right?????) can get back to their rigorous cooking-and-eating schedule (like we ever got off it) and fill you in on every bit of it!

For now, I’ll leave you wtih a preview of what’s coming from me on PG:

Alex Runs, Joh Cooks is BACK with 3 protein-packed recipes – spoiler alert: 1 of them is FRENCH!!
Poulet Provencal, another AMAZING recipe from the March 2008 Gourmet Magazine
Apple. Cider. DONUTS
The most outstanding Mushroom Risotto you’ve ever eaten.
An all-new take on Eggplant Parm

And much, MUCH MORE!!!

Get excited, my friends. Very very excited. :)


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks p. 2

Posted: September 3, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Johanna, pasta, quick, spicy, vegetarian | 17 Comments »

I return, with another runner-centric post to help my dear dear friend Alex raise funds for her half-marathon to help fund cancer research!!! Once again, or if you’re new to the game, here are the rules:

I’m making a pledge to donate to this race, and in an effort to get as many people involved as possible, here’s the plan: I’m creating a category of recipes and posts called “Alex Runs, Joh Cooks” — for every comment I get on one of these posts, I’m donating money to Alex’s cause. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell runners, or any other athletes you know. Tell people – I would rather not be able to afford my donation goal, than not be able to give my friend support.

The Rules: Each individual comment counts, up to 2 per person per post. You don’t have to give insight – you just have to leave your name (although I welcome your insights!!!) Check Alex’s site, check the blog, leave your name here, and Alex will get money!!

Tonight, we also give a shout-out to my amazing friend Laura, as well, because Laura is in training for the NYC Marathon and has mentioned to me that one of her perpetual cravings has been peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Sesame Soba Noodles of JOY!!!!!As you may know, Peanut butter is fabulous. There are restaurants devoted solely to its advancement. It can be used in various ways, as a sauce, as a binder, as a protein. As long as you get the sugar-free kind, you’re not wasting your calories or carbohydrates. In the spirit of peanut butter being long used in Asian cuisine, I made Peanut Butter-Sesame Soba Noodles! You may not know this, but soba noodles are buckwheat noodles that usually also contain whole wheat flour. They contain tons of amino acids, including lysine, as well as many anti-oxidants. 100grams of soba noodles produces more energy and more amino acids than either traditional pasta or bread, while still giving you some carb energy. In general, soba noodles plus peanut butter is a great way to bump up your proteins in the days leading up to a big run, especially if you are a vegetarian, like my girl Alex.
Peanut Butter-Sesame Soba Noodles
4oz./half a package Soba noodles
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbs olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbs cumin
1-2 tsp soy sauce (optional, depending on your sodium levels/preferences)
3-4 tbs sesame oil
Optional: Sriracha, other hot sauce, red chili flake, cayenne pepper to taste.
Soba Noodles in Boiling WaterDry-toasted Sesame SeedsThe Usual Suspects

1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, and drop the soba noodles in. You don’t need to rinse the noodles before you cook them, although you WILL need to rinse them after, because buckwheat is gummy/sticky occasionally. 6-8 minutes should do it. When they’re done, drain them, rinse them with warm water, drain, and rinse a second time.
2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (to taste) in a dry skillet until they start to smell nice, then remove them to a bowl.
3. In the skillet that you toasted the sesame seeds in, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the 2 crushed garlic cloves. If using, this is the time to drop in some crushed red pepper flake, and stir a lot. This should be about medium heat, you don’t want to burn anything. You’re trying to infuse the flavor of the garlic into the oil, as well as the spice of the red pepper flake. When you pull the Soba out of the water, take the garlic out of the skillet, add the peanut butter, and drop the heat.
4. As the peanut butter melts and begins to thin, whisk in the soy sauce if you’re using it, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and the cumin. If you’re using hot sauce, now’s the time as well. Let this get warm, and if it starts to get too thick, add some warm water. If you use cold water, the peanut butter will seize up, get grainy, and just generally refuse to play anymore.

5.When the sauce is heated through, creamy and pretty thin, pull it off the heat, and add the noodles to a big bowl. Drizzle another tablespoon of sesame oil onto the noodles, then pour on the sauce. Turn turn turn the noodles in the sauce, taste, adjust the seasonings, and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.

While this meal is delicious and amazing, we did not eat it alone. In fact, we paired it with gazpacho. While it was a little weird in the sense that we were eating a cold soup, and lukewarm noodles, it’s a good pairing from a nutrition standpoint. To make the simplest gazpacho, take any vegetables you like, (we used cucumber, a quarter of a red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 bell pepper, 1 fryer pepper, and 6-7 tomatoes) chop them into chunks, and put them in your blender. Dash in some red wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and if you have it, some tomato juice. If you don’t, that’s totally fine – it’ll work. Blend it until you like the texture, and eat immediately, after an hour, a few days later, whenever. Gazpacho loves you back.

Now remember!! Comment Comment Comment so I can give Alex money!! She deserves it, and she’s working hard!!!


Alex Runs, Joh Cooks, p.1

Posted: August 18, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, cheap, delish, Johanna, quick, spicy, vegetarian | 18 Comments »

I threw a dinner party on Saturday – Jesse and I threw one. In honor of Julia Child’s 97th birthday. I will post about it as soon as I’ve processed it. There are not many food photos, because the food disappeared, although one of my friends apparently took a few more. Until I can sort out the post, here is something to tide you over.

Think of it as an hors d’oeuvre.

This is a new facet of this blog, something I’m incredibly happy to be a part of. It’s for a good cause and it’s promoting something that’s important to me.
My college roommate, and dear friend, Alex, is running a half-marathon (my apologies to those I told a full marathon) as part of a charity team, to raise money for cancer research. This is a cause close to both my heart, since my Grampa lost the fight to lymphoma in 2006, and Alex’s since she has lost both her cousin and her father to blood cancers(in whose honor she’s running and raising funds). Please check out her site and support her.

I’m making a pledge to donate to this race, and in an effort to get as many people involved as possible, here’s the plan: I’m creating a category of recipes and posts called “Alex Runs, Joh Cooks” — for every comment I get on one of these posts, I’m donating money to Alex’s cause. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell runners, or any other athletes you know. Tell people – I would rather not be able to afford my donation goal, than not be able to give my friend support.

The Rules: Each individual comment counts, up to 2 per person per post. You don’t have to give insight – you just have to leave your name (although I welcome your insights!!!) Check Alex’s site, check the blog, leave your name here, and Alex will get money!! These recipes will be largely vegetarian (because Al is a vegetarian), lots of veggies, lots of protein, lots of energy and fuel. They will not be difficult.
You can do this.  She can do this. Help me help her, and everybody else!!

Seared Tofu with Lentil Salad and Spicy-Sesame DressingThis, my friends, is tasty and easy.

Seared Tofu, Lentil Salad with Spicy-Sesame Dressing

1/2 container Extra-firm Tofu
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 red onion
1/2 carrot
1 stalk celery.
Sriracha, Sesame Oil, Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, Cider Vinegar (if you like)
Assorted veggies, any type you choose. I used a green bell pepper, half a zucchini, and a crap-ton of heirloom tiny tomatoes.

1. Put lentils, 1/2 of the onion (so 1/4 of the TOTAL onion), carrots, and celery in a pot. Cut the onion, carrot and celery into large chunks. Cover by 2 inches with water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. If the water boils off, add more. Keep them covered for the first 10 minutes. Taste a lentil, and check every 2-3 minutes until the lentils are soft on the outside, but still have some bite. Maybe 10 more minutes, tops.
Lentils and veggies2. While the lentils cook, cut up into small dice the vegetables – pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, and the rest of the red onion. Put them in a big bowl.
3. When the lentils are done, drain them, pull out the big chunks of celery, onion and carrot, and rinse the lentils under cold water. Drain and rinse a second time to really cool them down, then put them in the bowl with the veggies. Season the veggies a little with salt and pepper. Taste, and make sure they taste good on their own. This is very important.

4. Put a big skillet or grill pan on the heat, and get it SCREAMIN’ hot. Combine a teaspoon of Sriracha, a teaspoon of soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Whisk together and adjust to your flavor preferences. Cut your tofu brick into strips and brush one side of each strip with the marinade.

5. Put the tofu marinade side down on your pan. You don’t need any additional oil. Sear for about 2 minutes on one side, brush the side that’s up with the marinade, and flip. This flip is why we need extra-firm tofu.

6. Bring it all together. Take the tofu off, and let it cool a bit. Take whatever marinade you may have left, and add more of all the elements: More sriracha, more soy sauce (but not too much, let’s not be crazy) more sesame oil, and probably some regular oil to thin it out. You’re going to need between a third and half of a cup total.
Assembly: pour the dressing over the veggies. stir, gently, to combine. Taste, and dish out. Put a tofu slice on top of the salad, and call it dinner. 

Tofu, side 1Tofu, side 2The usual suspects

Enjoy, and help me help Alex!! I cook, she runs, we all win!!!!


Dipali's Dinners

Posted: August 9, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: cheap, delish, Johanna, quick, vegetarian | Tags: | 10 Comments »

Hello friends! Yesterday, something strange happened. Other people cooked……for ME!!! It’s a rarity, and I enjoyed it immensely. :)   To make sure that she get her due credit, last night for dinner I hung out with my fantastic friend Marla, who is a fashion student and an all-around hell of a gal. She made me spaghetti with sauce that I swear had…. magic in it. Maybe it was the parmesan. Maybe it was the tomatoes. I’ll never know, until I go home and hang out with her mother and stalk her spaghetti-sauce making. But mmmm. And the brownies!! Marla made brownies that had cherries, and walnuts in them. I’ll let that sink in.

Cherries (freshones, real ones) and walnuts.
They may have looked a little fugly, fallen apart a little, but believe me, I am not one to turn down chocolate, and who ever said brownies needed to LOOK nice??? These were delicious. Delish!!!

Dipali's DinnersYesterday afternoon, my friend from work, Dipali, came over to do the first of a series of guest-cooking posts, called Dipali’s Dinners. Dipali is Indian, and since I alerted her to the site, she has graciously offered to come over and teach me authentic Indian dishes, from her mom’s recipes. I was really excited about this, because any curries that I’d made from scratch had always taken lots of steps, and lots of pots and pans, and I couldn’t find a respectable curry paste in my grocery store, and I was reduced to Thai Yellow Curry Paste which is HOT and not as delicious as what I’m looking for, and finally, I was fed up.

Dipali promised there wasn’t that much to worry about. I trust her. She’s sweet and pretty. Always trust the sweet and pretty. They will not steer you wrong.
So yesterday, Dipali came over, armed with her lovely, fragrant little spice tin, and taught me how to prepare two different vegetable dishes from her repetoire: Channa Masala Shaak, and Eggplant & Spinach Shaak.

I was immediately heartened, because Dipali said that a lot of Indian cooking uses those three words I love so much, “Season to Taste” — there isn’t really measurements, it’s about the flavor you’re looking for. She also laid out the basic theory or principle behind the cooking: Get the oil really hot, add your aromatics (usually onion and/or garlic), add the spices, and get the spices really hot so that they infuse the oil with their flavor. This, I can do.

EggplantWe started with the eggplant-spinach Shaak.
1 medium eggplant, cut into small cubes or chunks.
4 cloves of garlic, chopped.
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole corriander seeds.
1 teaspoon each: Tumeric, Ground Cumin, Cayenne powder, Salt
1 package frozen spinach (defrosted)
4 tbs. oil, 1 c. Water.

Heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet with high sides. Add the garlic and the cumin and corriander seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, add the eggplant, tumeric, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and water. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Let it all simmer for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant has softened.  You can cover it if you want, to make sure that the flavors have nowhere to go but into the eggplant. After about 10 minutes, add the spinach, stir well, and cover again. Let everything get friendly on low heat for as long as you need to. This food will not rush you. It will not make demands on your time. In fact, it’s happy whenever you’re happy.
After simmeringAdjust To Taste
Look at all that yum. Dipali decided after the simmering (left) that it needed some more tumeric (right). Like I said, since she’s sweet and pretty I trust her. Plus, I can definitely get behind any cuisine that says “Stick your finger in the pot, lick the finger, and decide what else to pour in”. That is my kind of cuisine.

Channa Masala, everyoneWe accompanied our eggplant and spinach with some channa masala.
1/2 Red Onion diced
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 teaspoon Corriander seeds
1 teaspoon each: Cumin, Cayenne pepper, Tumeric
3 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cups (1 can) chickpeas. (If you’re using a can, drain and rinse them)
1/2 teaspoon each salt and garam masala (spice blend, you can buy it at Whole Foods)
Once again, heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, and all the spices (except the 1/2 teaspoon garam masala) and cook until they start smelling delicious and amazing. Then, add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes break down into a lovely sludgy tomato-sauce esque consistency. Add the chickpeas, and up to half a cup of water. You may only need 1/4 cup, depending on your tomatoes. If you add too much, you can always boil it off until the liquid reduces. No worries here. Bring the channa masala to a simmer, add in the garam masala and salt, and simmer for 10 minutes or until your willpower gives out. Try for at least 10 minutes. Taste this too at the end, and adjust the seasonings to what you’d like. You’ll probably end up adding more of at least one of the spices, since this is a very malleable dish.

The spreadOur lovely lunch spread, which fed 3 people and gave leftovers. I love indian cooking!!! I also love it because it’s yummy and warm and lovely and …. sigh.

Try these. And we’ll be back soon with a second installment of Dipali’s Dinners. :) YAY!!!



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.