Monday, October 31, 2011

Tofu -- My True Love!

Tofu will be my last supper if I need to choose one. For many years I have lived in this western country, and so many times I have heard people say they hate it, but my love of good tofu will never be changed. Whether it is fresh and cold, fried, grilled, stir-fried or steamed... it is a comfort food for all seasons that I cannot live without. When the weather is too hot and steamy, fresh cold tofu with chopped scallion, grated ginger, soy sauce and a dash of lemon juice is refreshing and helps the appetite. When the weather is cold and miserable, a hot pot of tofu with vegetables can soothe and nourish body and soul. 

I think tofu often is disliked because people just don't know what to do with it. There are a thousand ways to cook and enjoy tofu. How about Tofu Parmigiana, or Spicy Fried Tofu Etouffee, or Marinated Grilled Tofu Burger?

For tonight, I made a quick, easy stir-fry of tofu and mixed fresh vegetables:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolate Tart and Banana Bread

I gave a baking lesson for my neighbors on making a couple sweets: Chocolate Tart and Banana Bread. They had only 2 hours available to learn everything, so I had to organize the procedure to make both recipes at the same time. First I made the tart dough, rolled it out, placed it in the tart pan, and then chilled it in the refrigerator. While the pan/dough was chilling, we made banana bread batter and placed it in the preheated 375F oven to bake about 45 minutes. Then we put the chilled tart pan into the oven and baked it about 18-20 minutes -- the lower shelf for the tart and the upper shelf for banana bread. While baking the tart dough (to lightly brown it), we made the chocolate filling, which takes about 10-12 minutes. Once the tart shell was ready, we poured in the chocolate filling, then put it back in the oven for about 15 minutes. Consequently, within just 2 hours we had finished making both recipes.

Start to finish... everything in 2 hours.

They both came out excellent!
Pairing suggestion for the banana bread:  a light, fragrant Muscat
Pairing suggestion for the chocolate tart:  a full-bodied Port

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thai Food

I am a big fan of Thai cuisine, particularly seafood and vegetable dishes. This is my favorite: cuttlefish salad served with sweet chili/lemon dressing on a bed of iceberg lettuce. Sometimes I add shrimp to make this dish more flavorful. What to drink? Thai beer, of course!

The picture on the left is a vegetable dish of stir-fried tofu, zucchini, snow peas, baby bamboo shoots and red sweet pepper. The one on the right is fried fillet of cod with red hot chili pepper and garlic sauce. These three dishes are my current favorites. I've got to have them at least once every 2 weeks.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flat Bread Pizza

I made pesto sauce for a friend this morning, so I was able to make a quick lunch for myself using Lavash Bread. It's like a Mexican tortilla and quite versatile in that you can put on any topping you like, then roll it up and slice, or just cut into smaller squares and serve like an open (or folded) sandwich.

I normally warm up Lavash bread just a few minutes in the oven or quickly toast it over the open gas flame or grill. For the one in the picture above, I put my homemade pesto sauce, sliced tomatoes, arugula and some fresh mozzarella cheese on top. I often make it with sliced mushrooms, shredded cheese, arugula with thin sliced prosciutto or Coppa (dry-cured pork shoulder) or sliced smoked salmon with thin-sliced cucumber and sour cream, cream cheese etc.... whatever I can find in my refrigerator. Quick and easy!

Mushroom, red onion and fresh basil leaves

Thin sliced Coppa

I am lucky to have a store called "Woodside  Delicatessen" (Italian family-owned)  in my neighborhood. It's  kind of an old-style establishment, but very popular, and they have a wonderful selection of many cold meat products, both domestic and imported. What I love is that they slice cold meats perfectly for you for no charge. It makes a big difference when you get freshly sliced cold cuts. And they are very friendly people and  know all their customers' names.

Prosciutto with Parmigiano Reggiano

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Raspberry Sorbet

The Bay Area weather has been like a roller coaster ride in the past week. It was pretty cool last weekend, but heated up hot during the week. So I made raspberry sorbet a couple days ago to go with this Indian summer. I do not know why but raspberries are cheaper than blueberries these days. Supply and demand? I see that blueberries have been very popular in the U.S. recently, maybe it due to news media' s large claim about health benefits. Anyway I like raspberries because it not too sweet but very delicious.

I bought these local organic raspberries at the Menlo Park farmer's market. They were still very delicious. The grower is from Watsonville, south of San Jose.

Puree the raspberries through the sieve after 30 minutes in the boiled water and sugar mixture (2 cups of water, 1 and 1/2 cup sugar and 3 basket of raspberries about 20-ounces).

Chill the raspberry mixture in refrigerator at least 2 hours before putting into the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes.

It was started melting while I was taking the picture. It's still pretty hot around here.