Friday, May 28, 2010

Spicy garlic sauce

When we get Chinese take out we inevitably go for the eggplant in spicy garlic sauce.  It is one of our favorites and it is something I've found to be consistently good across a wide spectrum of restaurants.  However, the drawback to the dish is that it is almost always swimming in oil.  I had picked up an eggplant at the produce market and went looking for a way to replicate this dish without all the oil.  I found a recipe for a spicy garlic sauce that looked pretty good and then decided to broil the eggplant rather than stir fry it.  I cut it into cubes and sprayed it with a bit of olive oil (I got a new oil mister recently and I really love it) and put it under the broiler until the cubes were browned and tender.  Once the sauce was ready I just tossed the cooked eggplant cubes with the sauce and served it over brown basmati rice.  It was really good but I think I should have doubled the sauce.

Last night I decided to try it again but this time with tofu.  So I doubled the sauce (except the sugar) and added some ginger in with the garlic.  It was perfect! 

Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
(printable recipe)
1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced into 12 slices and patted dry
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
4 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce, or according to taste
3/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1  tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Olive oil spray
10 cloves garlic and 2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped together


Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauces, rice wine or sherry, chili sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl, stirring to combine. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water.

Spray a sauté pan with olive oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring until aromatic (about 30 seconds).

Quickly restir the sauce, add it into the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring. (This will take about a minute).

Re-stir the cornstarch/water mixture and add it to the sauce, stirring to thicken

Spray a saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Put tofu slices in pan and leave them (don't be tempted to mess with them) until they start to brown around the edges.  When browned, flip them over and brown the other side.  Toss with the garlic sauce.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May Madness

When you have children in school, May is always that month that can (and usually does) break you.  It's the end of the season party, the band performance, open house, teacher's gifts, final projects and on and on.  It's May Madness and it is real.  But I don't have children in school, I have adults in college.  And yet May Madness has reared its ugly head empty nester style.  Lots of work related activities going on - went to a great private event at the 2010 Decorator Showcase in San Francisco and have been busy, busy working on our website.  Just last weekend we brought our youngest home from her freshman year of college.

Her final project in her painting class:

And here in the bay area, April showers brought May showers (I've taken to calling this month Mayvember - it is raining like crazy right now).   At least both my girls are finished with school for the semester so all is well!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jicama Melon Salad

As an accompaniment to the black bean and sweet potato enchiladas I wrote about yesterday, we had a refreshing jicama and melon salad.  I've made something similar in the past  (and what I wrote about the Lena Horne connection still holds true).  I was lucky that the cantaloupe I picked out was pretty much perfect which helped a lot.  And I will admit that whenever I see the tiny $5 package of pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's I think to myself  "who on earth would pay $5 for a handful of pomegranate seeds?"  Well, me as it turns out.  But they really made the salad.  The sweetness of the melon, the crispness of the jicama and then the unexpected pop of the pomegranate - perfect. I will definitely keep this one in rotation and when our pomegranates are ready this winter I am freezing the seeds so I don't have to buy them the rest of the year.

Glee is on tonight and the Sharks won.  Oh happy day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I know...long time no see.  It was my hungry-for-mom's-cooking daughter who reminded me I haven't blogged for awhile!  We had friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I decided to do an early Cinco de Mayo dinner - an Uno de Mayo dinner if you will.  I have an easier time planning a menu if I have some kind of theme.  This one happened to have a secondary theme which was lime.  I went through 18 limes before we even got around to making mojitos! (and yes, I know mojitos are Cuban, not Mexican but they are delicious.  And I drink them in Mexico.  So it counts)

I wanted to make something that could be popped into the oven so I could spend time with our friends and not on last minutes preparations so enchiladas were an obvious choice.  One couple we had over had already had my soyrizo and green olive enchiladas so I wanted to make something different for them.  I've seen recipes for sweet potato and black bean enchiladas all over the internets but the first place I saw them was in Robin Robertson's "Vegan Planet" cookbook - a pretty straightforward dairy-free recipe.  I've also made this version Gluten-Free Goddess Recipes: Karina's Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas.  But what I was really craving was mole - one of the best enchiladas I ever had was at the airport in Mexico City, a simple cheese enchilada with mole.  We ate there because it was basically the only place in the airport that took credit cards - the ATM wasn't working and we (being the excellent parents that we are) had zero cash with us.  No dollars, no pesos.  But I digress.

I'll admit - I used a store-bought mole because I live within minutes of countless Hispanic markets and it just made sense.  And I'm a little lazy.  I roasted the sweet potatoes and tossed them with canned black beans, canned green chiles and some mole sauce.  Rolled them up in corn tortillas with some monterey jack cheese, tucked them into these adorable individual baking dishes and topped them with more mole and some crumbled goat cheese.  They were baked at 350 (covered) for about 20 minutes and then uncovered for 10.  Before serving them I drizzled on some lime sour cream and some fresh cilantro.  

I didn't keep exact measurements but essentially this was the recipe (and I had plenty of leftover filling so use your own judgement for how many you want to make - I made 8 individual dishes of two each)

4 large sweet potatoes, cut in a small dice (about 1/2")
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can fire roasted diced green chiles
8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
16 corn tortillas
crumbled goat cheese - ~2 oz.
cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper
prepared mole sauce

Preheat oven to 450.  Toss sweet potato cubes with some olive oil (I just used my mister), salt, pepper, a bit of cumin and some chili powder (~1/2 tsp each).  Roast until they start to brown and are tender throughout - 30-45 minutes depending on how much you are cooking and how crowded the pan is.  Toss the sweet potatoes with the black beans, green chiles and some mole.  Just enough sauce to sort of hold everything together.  Warm the tortillas - either in a towel in the microwave or one at a time in a dry frying pan - until softened.  On a plate, use a pastry brush to cover each side of the tortilla with sauce (with regular enchilada sauce you can dip them but this was a bit too thick for that).  Spoon on some of the potato-bean mixture, a bit of cheese and then roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.  I filled these quite generously since it wasn't going to be possible to go back for seconds.  I put two in each baking dish, topped with sauce and sprinkled with goat cheese.  These were very, very good...

Mojito season has officially begun!