Red Curry Peanut Tofu with Apple Cilantro Topping

Half an hour from start to finish, this creamy-yet-crunchy tofu concoction makes the perfect weeknight dinner: chop some stuff, stir some stuff together, fry curry paste, add sauce & tofu & serve with topping. Boom!

for 3-4

1 package firm tofu, cubed
2 tsp red curry paste

for the sauce
1 can coconut milk
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 a lime’s juice

for the topping
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2-3 green onions, cut into fine rings
1/2 apple, minced
1/2 a lime’s zest
1 red chili, chopped
1 handful peanuts (which you will not find in the picture since I forgot them)

Fry red curry paste for about 2 minutes in coconut or vegetable oil.     Add sauce, bring to a boil.     Reduce to a simmer and, after a couple of minutes, season to taste & add tofu; let simmer until warmed.     Serve over rice and under toppings.

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Two Middle Eastern Salads – Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts

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Both from the lovely Middle Eastern cookbook “Olives, Lemons & Za’atar” by Rawia Bishara. The brussels sprouts come with crispy fried panko and a yogurt-tahini-pomegranate sauce, the cauliflower boasts a similar sauce and comes with parsley. Their dressings are indeed similar, but different enough to serve together, maybe with some Arab flat bread and spreads, olives?

I for one have overcome my fear of (deep-)frying when I made some lovely fried green tomatoes this weekend. Said fear was mostly rooted in smell concerns, as we have neither a kitchen door nor an exhaust hood and we all know how frying smells tend to linger and creep into your clothes (even the ones you’re not wearing). However, with the advent of spring I can leave the entirety of our windows open from start to finish and then another 12 hours after, which usually does the trick. And it just produces some lovely results – how perfectly golden brown is my cauliflower exactly? (“Lovely” again, huh? Yes, I have been watching a lot of the Great British Baking Show lately.)

Anyway, let’s get to it. We’ll start by making a basic tahini sauce.

125ml tahini (sesame paste)
1 large garlic clove
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/3 tsp salt

Combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt in food processor, blend for two minutes on low speed.     Turn speed to high until mixture begins to whiten.     Gradually add water until you reach your desired consistency (thick enough to coat a spoon, but still smooth; not too runny).

For the Cauliflower Salad (2-3 servings)

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 in florets
vegetable oil for frying
125ml tahini sauce (we just made that, yay!)
30ml pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place cauliflower in large saucepan and cover with water.     Bring water to boil and cook for 2 minutes.     Drain.     Place somewhat less than 1 inch of oil in a frying pan over high heat.     When hot, fry cauliflower until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.     Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.     Arrange on serving dish, drizzle with tahini sauce, pomegranate molasses and then add your parsley.

For the Brussels Sprouts with Panko (2-3 servings)

1lb brussel sprouts, prepared and cut in half
vegetable oil for frying
75ml tahini sauce (already made!)
75ml plain yogurt
3/4 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
3/4 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
30g panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
pinch of salt

Pour oil on large frying pan, about 1/2in, and place over high heat.     When hot, fry brussels sprouts until they are browned all over.     Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.     Whisk together tahini sauce, yogurt and pomegranate molasses.     Heat olive oil in small frying pan over medium-high heat.     When hot, sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.     Add panko and stir constantly until golden brown (about 2 minutes).     Sprinkle in salt and remove from heat.     Place brussels sprouts in serving dish, drizzle with sauce & top with panko.

 

Japanische Nudelsuppe

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Düsseldorf hatte zu meiner Zeit zwei große Stärken. Erstens, den Stern-Verlag, die weltbeste Buchhandlung. Leider hat der dichtgemacht, während ich hier in Annapolis saß und den Umsatz nicht fördern konnte. Ehrlich, es brach mir das Herz. Die Kochbuchabteilung war mein zweites Zuhause. Zweitens, um eine fröhlichere Note anzuschlagen, viele viele richtig gute japanische Restaurants. Naniwa, Takumi, Kikaku, Yabase, Nagaye, to name a few. Für unter zehn Euro konnte man sich (zumindest in den ersten beiden) an kalten Tagen an einer köstlichen Nudelsuppe erquicken. Keine Ahnung, warum ich vorher noch nicht auf die Idee gekommen bin, das Ganze nachzukochen.

Auf dem Düsseldorfer Blog Curious Forks entdeckte ich kürzlich auf der allwöchentlichen Suche nach Dinnerrezepten ein köstlich anmutendes Süppchen, komplett mit nettem Instruktionsvideo von Claudia. Das hab ich in Anbetracht der verfügbaren Zutaten leicht abgewandelt und mir gepflegt mit einem kalten Pilsbier schmecken lassen, so wie einst in Düsseldorf.

für 2-3

1 daumengroßes Stück Ingwer
3 Knoblauchzehen
500ml Gemüsebrühe
500ml Misosuppe (gibt es hier ähnlich Gemüsebrühe als Fertigtrockenmischung zu kaufen; ansonsten 1l Gemüsebrühe mit 2 EL Misopaste anreichern)

3 EL Sesam
3 TL scharfes Sesamöl
3 TL Sojasoße
2 TL Zucker

300g Udon-Nudeln

Als Toppings Pak-Choi, Pilze nach Wahl, Frühlingszwiebeln, Sprossen, hartgekochte Eier oder wonach einem sonst der Sinn steht.

Ingwer und Knoblauch hacken und in Öl anschwitzen.     Brühe & Misosuppe angießen und vor sich hin köcheln lassen.     Sesam im Mörser grob zerstoßen, Sesamöl, Sojasoße und Zucker hinzugeben und vermischen.     Nudeln garen.     Toppings vorbereiten.     Brühe durch ein Sieb gießen, um Knoblauch & Ingwer loszuwerden.     Die Sesampaste auf 2-3 Suppenschüsseln verteilen, jeweils eine Portion Nudeln draufgeben, Brühe angießen und Toppings darauf verteilen.     Die Suppe wird traditionell mit Stäbchen & Löffel gegessen, scharfes Sesamöl und Sojasoße kann man zum Nachwürzen auf den Tisch stellen.

Fettuccine with Kale & Golden Tomatoes

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Schlicht und ergreifend und fast schon eines dieser Rezepte, die sich im Titel von selbst erklären. Lässt sich spontan und ohne große Umstände zubereiten. Eigentlich hatte ich für heute einen fruchtigen Rotkohlsalat geplant, aber dann haben doch die Kohlehydraterezeptoren angefangen zu bibbern und na ja, dann eben rasch hierauf ausgewichen. Dazu nen Schoppen Roten, wohl bekomm’s!

1 Packung Fettuccine
3 Handvoll Grünkohl
2 Knoblauchzehen
1 Chilischote
1 Pfund gelbe Kirschtomaten
2 EL Olivenöl

Wasser für die Nudeln aufsetzen.     Knobis in dünne Scheiben schneiden, Chilischote hacken, Grünkohl in mundgerechte Stücke reißen.     Olivenöl in großer Pfanne über kleiner Flamme erhitzen, Knobi, Chili und Tomaten hinzufügen und ca. 8 Minuten dünsten.     Pasta sollte inzwischen im Topf sein, für die letzte Minute den Grünkohl mit ins Wasser hauen.     Abgießen, zu Tomatenmischung geben und unterheben.     Mit Salz, Pfeffer und Olivenöl abschmecken.     Wenn Percorino zur Hand ist, immer feste drauf!

 

Potato Salad with Lots of Herbs

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Herbs, magic. Their smell is happiness. They carry promises and memories of meals past, inspiring intense feelings of culinary desire. Chives, dill, parsley, what’s not to love? Give me all the herbs and I will put them in everything. Herbs make everything better. Potato salads, as it were. True, this one has a little mayo in it, but only a little, and in combination with herbs and capers still has a delicious freshness to it. Rounded up with cornichons and eggs it makes a great meal any day of the week (for instance, Monday).

750g boiling potatoes
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp crème fraîche
2 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp chopped cornichons (small pickles)
1 Tbsp capers (I prefer salted ones that I soak in water for half an hour to rinse off the excess – they have more of a bite to them this way)
1 Tbsp chives, chopped
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp dill, chopped
3 eggs, hardboiled, cut up

Boil potatoes and cut into cubes.     While still warm, add oil and vinegar, generous amounts of salt and pepper & let cool down.     Stir together the rest of the ingredients (save some herbs and the eggs) in your salad bowl, then add potatoes.     Toss carefully and season to taste.     Serve with eggs and herbs on top.

Artichoke Tapenade on Homemade Bread, Herbed Couscous Salad

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In the past two weeks I have been experimenting with the infamous No-Knead-Bread. I’ve found that a ratio of 3/4 bread flour and 1/4 whole wheat flour works best for me, tastewise. The recipe is pretty simple and the outcome reliable. I took it to game night with the neighbors last night and everyone loved it. I can definitely see it becoming a staple in our house. Once you start baking your own bread (at least where we live), there’s no going back to grocery store toast and limp baguettes … Last night I served the bread with a store-bought olive tapenade (acquired while panicky last-minute shopping for the snow storm), then felt challenged to make my own. I decided to go with a artichoke tapenade, which paired amazingly with the bread and a glas of Portuguese red (our current house wine). We had it for dinner with a herbed couscous salad from my personal recipe hero Ottolenghi (how can all recipes in one cookbook be so delicious?!). Enjoy!

For the artichoke tapenade:

In a food processor, combine 2 minced garlic gloves, 1 cup of pitted green olives, 1 tbsp capers, a small can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 6 tbsp olive oil. Pulse until almost smooth but still chunky. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice (optional).

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For the herbed couscous salad:

Put 120g couscous into a large bowl, add 160ml boiling vegetable broth. Cover with cling wrap and let sit for ten minutes. Meanwhile, cut 1 small onion into thin slices and fry in 1tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat until golden brown and soft. Cut three scallions into thin rings, coarsely chop a handful of pistachios. Chop a handful of flat parsley leaves, a handful of cilantro greens, the leaves of 3 mint sprigs and 5 dill sprigs, then puree in food processor with 90ml olive oil until smooth. With a fork, work herb paste into couscous, then add onion slices, pistachios, green onions and a generous handful of arugula. Season to taste.

Cranberry Walnut Bread

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My trusted breakfast friend. Sometimes I jealously look at people who have their breakfast figured out. Who eat the same amount of the same thing every morning over years and are happy with it. I seem to only be able to stick with the same breakfast for two, three months if I am lucky. My perfect breakfast consists of fried potatoes and eggs, but honestly, who wants to stink up their apartment with frying smells first thing in the morning? I’m not saying I never do it, but the olfactory nuisance keeps me from making it everyday. Currently, I have found another breakfast option. Breads. Or shall I say, cakes? Cause that’s basically what they are. Sugar, butter, flour, eggs, ta-daa. Best part is, they don’t only work with your morning, but also with your afternoon cup of tea. A true, delicious allrounder. So far, I’ve only made banana bread, and this one, my current favorite. With orange zest and a hint of cinnamon, it heralds the colder, candle-lit times ahead.

I found this recipe on the blog Once Upon A Chef after I had bought a slice of cranberry bread at the coffee shop and decided to make one myself.

For 1 loaf in 9×5” baking pan

1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, from one orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped coarse
1/2 cup walnuts

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter and egg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Do not overmix.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving.

Welcome to the Kitchen!

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I hereby welcome two new additions to our kitchen. The first one, alluded to before, is a super pretty KitchenAid, stuff of my earliest wet kitchen dreams. Exciting, because it will help me with all these doughs that I don’t really like making (I’m looking at you, pizza and bread). And also any other dough for, say, the odd banana bread (I did make that the other day and it turned out fantastic).

The second one can also be seen in the above picture. The Mockmill is an attachment specifically for the KitchenAid, but not designed or sold by them (but by a good friend’s dad from the next village back in D). It’s a grain and spice mill with self-sharpening grinding stones that I had brought over from Germany in KA anticipation. I was super excited about this since we are somewhat forced to make our own bread here (you know the old Germans-in-the-US bread story), and this construction enables us to grind our own flour. Freshly ground flour has been one of the food smells which makes me the most happiest in the world, ever since I took a baking class in elementary school where we also got to grind our own flour. Pre-ground flour usually doesn’t smell like much when you open the packaging, it’s freshly-ground counterpart just smells like heaven on earth. Plus, way more nutrients are preserved when using freshly ground flour. Karl baked his first bread the other week and it turned out just great. Even though it was a pretty simple bread, it tasted delicious. I’m blaming the Mockmill.

You can also grind all non-oily spices in the Mockmill, which for yours truly (aka kitchen nerd) is another wonderful selling point. Nichts gegen the old mortar and pestle, but with bigger amounts this is simply more convenient. Freshly ground spices for life (reasons: Aroma. Taste. What holds true for the old black pepper pretty much holds true for all other spices)! Here’s some more grinding impressions.

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Let the baking continue!

Quinoa & Baby Spinach Salad with Tofu Dressing

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Probably our No. 1 salad these days. I took a liking to it during my last weeks in Germany and was delighted to find out that Karl shared my taste for tofu-mustard dressing which pairs exceptionally well with the white quinoa. Instead of baby spinach you can use any other type of tender salad greens. The fried tofu on top is optional, I came up with that as you don’t need a whole package for the dressing; there’s always leftover tofu. Karl is crazy about it, but I’m not crazy about frying it up. But it does make an excellent addition to this little summer number. On another, albeit food-related note: Tomorrow I will taste the famed Maryland Blue Crab for the first time, as we go out to a festive crab hammering in celebration of my birthday. I’ll try and take some pictures for all you readers back home and elsewhere who also never picked a crab apart by hand (or by any other means).

Here’s what you need for two:

50g tofu (firm of you want to fry some up, soft if you don’t)
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp maple sirup
Salt & pepper
3 Tbsp rape seed oil

4.25oz white quinoa
Baby spinach or similar
Toasted sesame oil
Cayenne pepper
Curry powder

In a blender, mix all ingredients from tofu to rape seed oil.     Alternatively, fill in a bell jar and shake vigorously until blended.

Cut whatever leftover tofu you have into cubes and marinate in sesame oil, some cayenne pepper & curry powder and salt or whatever spices you prefer.

Bring quinoa to boil in 200ml water and cover, simmering for 12 minutes over low heat.     Take off heat, wrap pot in a blanket and let sit for 20 minutes.     Let cool down for a little bit before mixing with spinach.     Add dressing and serve with fried tofu on top.

Green Bean Curry “Super Quick”

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I actually cooked this last week and froze it since I didn’t think about the fact we’d be gone for the weekend while grocery shopping. Freezes just great! We enjoyed it after we came back from Delaware this afternoon. This is not cooked the classic way, it’s almost more of a One Pot Curry. You just chop your ginger, onion, chili and garlic and throw it in a big pot with coconut milk and some spices. The beans come in towards the end so they’ll have a nice crunch. Will definitely cook again. If you use frozen beans you might not even have to go shopping for it.

We also received a great gift this weekend (actually, a lot of them!), but specifically one that I hope will make its first appearance on the blog soon … so stay tuned!

for 2-3

1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 red chili peppers, finely chopped (precise amount and variety, seeded or de-seeded depending on how spicy you want it)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 piece of ginger (maybe an inch), finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp curry powder
1 handful cashews, unsalted
1 can coconut milk
9oz green beans, tips cut off and beans cut in half

Put all ingredients except green beans in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.     Add green beans and simmer for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally until beans are tender.     Season to taste with salt and serve over basmati rice.