Friday, November 28, 2008
The day after - still very, very thankful
I love being with our family. They are bright, intelligent, articulate people who also happen to be generous and kind.
We never want for an opinion - and sometimes two or three from the same person on the same subject!
We played a few really hot rounds of UNO. The competition was fierce!
We played in Spanish to help Ms. Mackie do better with her mastery of the language - especially with colors and numbers. She's doing quite well, thank you very much.
We firmly believe that it is important for our kids to grow up bi- or mulit-lingual, especially in this multicultural, pluralistic world.
Two year old Ms. Abby, however, was confused by the game as well as the Spanish. At one point, she simply put her Beloved Blankie over her head and said, "No more funny talk."
"Oh," we said, "we're having fun."
"Have fun," she said, "No talk funny."
In the end, however, she was asking for the 'azul' sippy cup.
We also had a ballet lesson, Ms. Mackie showing her best form.
Of course, we also went around the front yard and collected sea shells and rocks for Ms. Mackie's growing . . ."collection." We did find the shell of a horseshoe crab that had washed up in the last storm. Mackie was so excited she squealed!
Oh, yeah, and the food was good. The vegetarian alternatives were particularly tasty - so good that everyone had some of the sweet potato and mixed mushroom stuffing and the winter butternut squash braised in cider.
Unfortunately, tofu still suffers from initial bad press - first impressions and all that - but it was really, really good.
So, if you have some vegetarians in your family or in the future of your family, here are some fabulous recipes which are now part of our family tradition.
Baked Tofu with Roasted Vegetables
(Makes 4 servings)
1 block (14 oz.) extra firm tofu
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce)
2 tbsp canola or sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 inch ginger root, peeled and smashed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
8 stalks fresh asparagus
hot pepper oil ** (optional)
optional: sliced green onions and /or black sesame seeds for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
Drain the tofu of excess water. Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally, and in half again to make four “steaks”. Place between paper towels and press to get any remaining water out. (To do this well, press and drain and leave aside for a few minutes and then press and drain again.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and oil. Add mashed garlic and ginger. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and brush with the marinade. Let sit for at least twenty minutes or up to two hours in the fridge, letting the juices soak in.
Toss the asparagus and red pepper in 1/2 tbsp olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet next to the tofu slices. Season everything with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Bake in the oven for about one hour, turning once, until tofu is golden and crispy. The edges should look crispy and glazed and the vegetables should be caramelized. Brush any extra sauce over top if necessary.
Remove from the oven and plate the tofu slices with the vegetables. Serve with a drizzling of hot pepper oil or with ***creamy tahini-peanut dipping sauce.
** Make your own hot pepper oil by heating 5 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp crushed red pepper in a small saucepan until the oil starts to bubble and brown. Place in a lidded container and set aside for a few days so the infusion has time to really come alive and age. Use sparingly to add flavor and spice to any dish. But be careful, this is going to be spicy!
*** Tahini Sauce:
(Recipe makes enough sauce for several pounds of asparagus and tofu, but have fun thinking of other things it would taste great with.)
1/4 cup well-stirred Tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup warm water
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. agave nectar, preferably amber (can also use sugar or Splenda)
1/2 tsp. ground garlic puree from a jar (or use fresh garlic and grind in mortar and pestle)
2 tsp. soy sauce (I used Tamari)
2 T peanut butter (I use natural low-sugar peanut butter for South Beach Diet)
Mixed Mushrooms and Sweet Potato Stuffing
Adapted from Charlie Trotter of Charlie Trotter's, Chicago
Time: 45 minutes
4 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and in large dice (4 cups)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (shiitake, portobello or cremini) (4 cups), cleaned, stemmed and in large dice
1 small red onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 sprigs thyme, plus 1 tablespoon minced thyme
8 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
8 cups day-old sourdough bread, in large dice (one 2-pound round loaf, trimmed of crust)
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. In roasting pan, place sweet potatoes, olive oil and 1 tablespoon sage leaves , sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast until golden brown and tender, tossing occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms and red onions with thyme sprigs, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir 4 tablespoons butter into hot mushrooms and discard thyme. Set mushrooms aside.
3. Use remaining butter to coat a 3-quart baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, one cup cream and 2 cups chicken broth together. Add bread and stir until coated evenly. Fold in sweet potatoes, mushroom mixture and remaining herbs. If bread cubes seem dry, add more cream and vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing into baking dish and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.
Yield: 10 - 12 servings.
Winter Squash Braised in Cider
WINTER SQUASH BRAISED IN CIDER
Time: 15 - 25 minutes
3 pounds delicata or butternut squash
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
3 cups unfiltered apple or pear cider
1 teaspoon balsamic or apple cider vinegar, optional and to taste
Freshly ground black pepper.
1. Peel squash, halve lengthwise, and remove seeds with spoon. If using delicata, slice into half-moons 1/2-inch thick; if using butternut, dice into 1/2-inch chunks.
2. Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over low heat until foamy. Add rosemary, and cook over medium heat to flavor butter, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add squash, cider, and 1 teaspoon salt. If squash is not covered by cider, add water to cover.
3. Bring to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender and cider has reduced to a glaze, stirring frequently, 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to warm serving bowl, and serve immediately.
Yield: 9 - 12 servings.