Sunday, January 25, 2009

Garlic Soba Noodles With Tofu

One of the best parts of being a part of the food blogging community is the fact that you get access to literally thousands and thousands of delicious, home-made recipes covering every taste, region, culture and speciality in the world. Not to get too sappy here, but it's pretty cool to be part of such a diverse and amazing community, all with one common goal: To eat good food.

So the other day when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I turned to my fellow food bloggers and their penchant for sharing their favorite recipes with the world. As usual, I was looking for something modestly healthy, and as it was a weeknight, something quick and relatively hassle-free. I knew I had a package of soba noodles in the cupboard, so I figured I would start from there. Scouring the 'nets for soba noodle recipes, I found something Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks had posted last March that fit the bill. I changed the recipe slightly; instead of regular bread crumbs on the tofu I used panko and used fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. By pure coincidence, I also used Organic Planet soba noodles, the brand Heidi says she tends to stockpile in her original post. They tend to be the only brand of dry soba noodles I can find, or at least notice, on the shelf at the grocery store.

Garlic Soba Noodles


8 oz. dry soba noodles (1 whole pack of Organic Planet soba noodles. If you are only cooking for 2, like I was, you could probably knock that down to 6 oz.)

3/4 panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
big pinch of salt
12 ounces (1 Pack) extra firm organic tofu, cut into 6 rectangular slabs
2 eggs, lightly beaten

a generous splash of olive oil
1 bunch green onions, greens trimmed, thinly sliced
4 big handfuls of chard, destemmed
2 - 3 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated

a few baby radishes, sliced paper thin

Boil a large pot of water and cook soba noodles per packet instructions or until just tender. Drain and set aside.

While the water is coming to a boil, get the tofu started by combining the bread crumbs, Parmesan and salt in a shallow plate. Dunk each piece of tofu in the egg and then press into the bread crumbs. Make sure each piece is nicely coated with crumbs. Place each piece on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces. Bake in a 375 degree oven until both sides are golden, flipping once along the way. Slice into strips and set aside.

Add the olive oil (and bit of salt) to a large skillet over med-high heat. Stir in the green onions, chard, and garlic, and cook for a minute until the chard collapses. Stir in the soba noodles. Stir in the parmesan. Remove from heat. Serve topped with the baked tofu and sliced radishes.

I strongly recommend only cooking the chard for a minute. I'm pretty sure I over-cooked the chard, and it wilted a little too much. I've never been very good at following directions. Otherwise, the dish was fantastic. These noodles were exactly what we needed on a cold, rainy San Francisco evening. Thanks to Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks for such a great and easy recipe. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fun With Cauliflower

So one of the fun things about winter is finding great seasonal vegetables and discovering recipes that are more interesting than steamed or stir-fried. Cauliflower has become something of a marginalized vegetable, stuck somewhere between brussel sprouts and green beans in the boring veggie department. But many varieties of cauliflower can be anything but boring.

One early winter's day out at the Civic Center Farmer's Market, I stumbled across a bizarre looking head of cauliflower. This green fractal-esque vegetable, called Romanesco Broccoli, is an Italian variety of cauliflower, and according to the vendor has a light broccoli flavor with the signature crunch of cauliflower. I brought a head home, and took some time to consider how to prepare it.

At the end of last November, when it was actually cold in San Francisco, soup was just what we needed to fill our bellies. I tracked down a pretty simple recipe for cauliflower soup, made some adjustments for the ingredients I had in my kitchen, and got to work turning that Romanesco into something delicious.

Cauliflower Soup with Almonds

1 medium white onion, halved then cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon water
1 (2-lb) head of cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces (6 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 3/4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups 1% or fat-free milk
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 handful of sliced almonds

Melt butter with water in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add cauliflower and onion and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower begins to soften (do not let brown), about 5 minutes. Add coriander and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add broth, milk, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup is cooking, toast almonds in a dry skillet over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 3 minutes.

Puree soup in a blender in 2 batches until very smooth. Serve and top with roasted almonds.

This is a surprisingly light and fluffy soup; The almonds add a wonderful crunch and nuttiness to the soft flavors of the cauliflower. While maybe not filling enough to stand on its own, this soup would be a perfect starter to any dinner on a cold night.

Now that we're in the middle of January and spring seems to have magically found us once again, it seems we no longer have the need for winter fare. Still wanting to keep things light and healthy, we threw together this asian-inspired dinner with cauliflower as the star.
(The following recipe was cut in half from the original since we are only cooking for 2. Feel free to adjust the amounts of soy sauce or seasonings to taste.)

Pepper-Roasted Cauliflower

8 cups cauliflower, cut into small, even-size florets (from 1 large head)
1/8 cup soy sauce (or Nama Shoyu)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, tossing cauliflower occasionally.

Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender and slightly blackened, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Ginger & Garlic Chicken

2 Cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce (or nama shoyu)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Combine soy sauce, oil and sugar in a large bowl. Grate garlic and ginger into the bowl using a microplane. Whisk to combine. Add chunks of chicken, and toss to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate for 15 to 20 minutes. Saute in a skillet until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.

These recipes were all pretty easy, and healthy to boot. As a bonus, we ended up with leftovers for lunch the next day. And cauliflower is fun again.


The Cauliflower Soup recipe was adapted from a recipe courtesy of Epicurious, and provided the recipe for the Pepper-roasted Cauliflower.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cold Weather Eats

Winter has settled in here in Northern California, and that means fog, moderate amounts of rain, and temperatures in the low 40's. (I know. Unbearable, isn't?) Even if we aren't shoveling snow from our driveways out here along the Pacific, it does get a bit chilly, and let's face it: Cold weather just doesn't say "salad" to anyone. So this week, the Missus and I were looking for some comfort food to warm us on these San Francisco nights. And, just after the holiday's onslaught of fatty, rich and carb-heavy foods, we needed something healthy-ish.

I stumbled upon this recipe from Cooking Light while ignoring my responsibilities at work the other day. It is your pretty standard chili recipe, but for one little twist: The recipe calls for chopped prunes. I know, it didn't sound right to me either. Turns out someone over there at Cooking Light knows what they are doing.

Turkey And Black Bean Chili


1 1/4 Lbs. ground raw turkey breast
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 1/4 cups water
12 whole pitted prunes (about 1/4 lb.), chopped
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, undrained

Cook turkey in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain into a colander.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 7 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and red pepper; cook 1 minute. Return turkey to skillet; stir in 2 1/4 cups water, prunes, and beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 5 - 10 minutes. Serve Turkey-and-Black Bean Chili over wild rice.

To add my own spin on the recipe, I used smoked salt from Seattle's Market Spice in place of standard table salt. It gives that little something extra. Enjoy!

Note: The pictures used in this post were, um, "borrowed" from Google images. Thanks, Google!