Monday, March 17, 2008

Hope of Spring Salad

This past Saturday morning I woke up to a shock. When I got upstairs to fix my breakfast, there was a bounty of vegetables on my kitchen table! Since this is a rare sight in my house unless i've been shopping I began to wonder if somehow I had gone sleep grocery shopping the past night. I figured out what really happened though when my dad came into the room and got all excited about the vegetables before me. He then informed me that this bounty was all from the farmers market. Wait, the farmers market? In March? With a foot of snow on the ground? Blasphemy!

As pathetic as it is, my almost 19 year old self had never realized that the market is open in the colder months. Growing up the sporadic visits to the market my parents took me on were always in the summer, so I guess my sub-concious always figured that since I only went in the summer, that the market was only open in the summer. Nope. Turns out my parents are just a bunch of sissies who don't like buying good produce if it requires going out in the cold. I guess my dad was just feeling brave this past Saturday, which I am grateful for as these veggies were wonderful. I didn't snap a picture, but included in the bounty was: butter leaf lettuce, green beans, baby potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers. All organic too!

So Saturday before work I roasted some of the pretty little organic tomatoes with some asparagus I had in the fridge, and drizzled them with some balsamic vinegar. It was a great little salad. I didn't take a picture though, and since I think posting a recipe without a picture is pointless, i'll leave it at that.


What I did make sure to take a picture of, was the resulting salad that came from the head of butter leaf lettuce. I had only had butter leaf lettuce once before, at a cafe where it was served with an amazing orange dressing. The flavors went so beautifully together that I knew i'd need to re-create a similar taste for this lettuce. So I went off of a recipe I recieved from a co-worker, adding some newer flavors I thought might be nice. The result was wonderful. It had creamy ingredients but still tasted light. The only change I might make is to add some dijon mustard to the next dressing, or perhaps a bit more vinegar, just to get a bit more bite out of them.


I'm calling this "Hope of Spring Salad" because even though there is snow all over, and the temperature is still below 0 (celcius) everyday, this salad helped me to believe spring might, at some point happen.

1 head butter leaf lettuce (other lettuces will work)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cucumber, sliced in half circles

2 tbs light sour cream
2 tbs light miracle whip
1/4 cup white vinegar
juice of 1/2 an orange
zest of one orange
1 tbs dill
pinch of salt and pepper

Wash and tear the lettuce leaves and thinly slice the onions. Mix with the walnuts and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix all dressing ingredients together with a whisk. Incorporate to the salad and serve right away.
(serves around 4 as a side salad.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's tofu...It's magic!

So much for my last's been almost a month and i've hardly blogged! I was kind of in a cooking rut I on.

Yesterday was one of those desperate food days. I was away on vacation for the past week, and when I got home I saw how very apparent it is that I am the only one in my family that buys real food! I came home to a near empty fridge, filled with only milk, leftovers, and a few condiments. And since I hadn't had a chance for a decent shopping trip yet, my only lunch option was macaroni and cheese. But I wanted something more. I wanted to make something, as I hadn't been able to cook for the past week. I'll talk more about my culinary adventures from my trip later, but right now the magic tofu will take center flog:


I found this recipe for Tofu "Magic" a while ago at Eat Me, Delicous and while it sounded great, It didn't really move me to make it right away. But as I previously mentioned, there is little to no food in my house. So I started with a base food, brown rice. I put on a pot and then went online to frantically search for something to go with it. As I came across some archived recipes, I found the one for tofu magic. I then got really excited when I remembered that there just might be a block of tofu in the fridge.
As it turns out, I didn't have any tofu. I actually didn't have any ingredients needed for the magic tofu. But my mind, my heart, and my stomach would take nothing but this recipe. So as the rice finished cooking I walked over to the grocery store and bought what was needed. It was a warm day, and fate seemed to be on my side just this once.

So thank you, fate. For bringing me to this recipe. It really is magic! For as long as i've been a vegetarian i've strived and searched for the perfect tofu. Crispy, yet tender...flavorful but not overpowering... this tofu is fits the bill!
I think the trick to is perfection is the frying of the tofu intially, then making more of a reduction then a sauce with only a few ingredients. It was such a quick and easy recipe to make to!
I chose to serve it with brown rice (as mentioned) and baby spinach. While there are a few leaves poking out of the mug (yes, I eat out of mugs!) there was also a little bundle under the rice. The heat from the rice and tofu wilted that spinach right up, and the mix was marvelous.


As a I went to retrieve this recipe again to post, I noticed that the recipe itself isn't called Tofu Magic, but "Matthew's Delicous Tofu". No matter what it is called, it is amazing and all should try it out!

Matthew's Delicious Tofu
Thanks toEat Me, Delicous, via The Garden of Vegan

2-3 servings (with rice)

1 lb medium firm tofu, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp dried chili, or 1 tsp Asian chili sauce
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup Braggs or soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped (garnish)

In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, saute the tofu in oil until browned. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic, ginger, and chili. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup, Braggs (or soy sauce), and lemon juice. Cover and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Garnish with almonds.