Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roasted Ratatouille with Honey Polenta

Looks like compost. Tastes like dinner.

Seriously, this is delicious and—even with all the dicing—it was ready in less than 30 minutes.

1 eggplant, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
4 plum tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
a few dashes of dried thyme
a few dashes of dried rosemary
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/3 to ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. butter

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a large bowl. Drizzle with EVOO (2 – 4 tbsp.) and toss to coat.

3. Spread the vegetables out on rimmed baking sheets and roast until the veggies are just tender (18-22 minutes).

4. Heat milk and vegetable stock in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the polenta and cook, whisking, until it’s thick and creamy (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat.

5. Stir butter, honey and cheese into the polenta.

6. In another saucepan, heat a dollop (a little less than 1 tbsp.) of EVOO over medium heat. Add the beans and cook, stirring, until heated through.

7. Add the beans to the roasted vegetables and toss.

8. Serve the ratatouille on a bed of polenta.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

It’s no secret that I love tofu. I love it with vegetables and marinades and whatnot—as a meat substitute, essentially. I have never had tofu with chocolate. I understand that tofu is a fantastic source of protein and all that, but tofu is a main course type of food, not a dessert food. Just as there are breakfast cereals (like cornflakes) and dessert cereals (like frosted flakes), there are main course foods (like tofu, vegetables, fish, beef, etc) and dessert foods (like chocolate, cake, cookies, brownies, etc). The two things are separate—for a reason. Combining chocolate and tofu would be like combining chicken and frosting… And yet, I tried it (chocolate and tofu). Why? Because Mark Bittman said it was good. He was right.

(Adapted from The Minimalist)

¾ cup organic sugar
¾ cup water
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 lb. silken tofu
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. chili powder

1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside, allowing the mixture to cool for a few minutes before adding it to the blender.

2. Combine the melted chocolate, tofu, vanilla, cinnamon, chili powder and sugar water in a blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into ramekins (we filled six ramekins and one small bowl).

4. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes. (The pudding is still rather delicious the next day so chilling for 24 hours seems totally appropriate.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Things I Learned: 2/18/11

-Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid that acts like either a solid or a liquid depending on the force with which you hit it. (ie. You can run on top of it, but if you try to walk slowly you’ll fall in.) It’s made of two parts cornstarch and one part water.

-Research suggests that people with allergies are less likely to get glioma (the type of brain tumor Ted Kennedy had), colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer.

-Florida state law requires sea turtle rescuers to return sea turtles to the place they were found—even if that place is so disgustingly polluted that it was part of the reason they needed rescuing in the first place.

-The Incan king planted the first quinoa seed of the season with a golden spade.

-The whole idea that only children are odd comes from an 1896 “study” by Granville Stanley Hall who asked teachers around the country to submit examples of children who were different. Some of the kids the teachers described were real kids (who were exceptionally pretty, remarkably ugly, surprisingly strong or just plain picky eaters) and some were fictional characters from novels. Hall tallied the numbers and determined that the majority of these “peculiar and exceptional children” were only children or children of immigrants.

-The Aztec word for avocado is ahuacatl, meaning testicle.

-Moose eat pine needles (live ones).

-Bladderworts (carnivorous plants) trap their prey at an acceleration of 600G. That’s a lot faster than a venus fly trap does it.

-A street without left turns is called a “Michigan left” and it’s safer and more efficient (both in terms of time and fuel) than a regular ol’ street.

-Rothschild’s giraffes, which are endangered, have five horns. (Other giraffe subspecies have two horns.) 

Polenta, Beans and Beef- Catalan-Style

Sometimes (okay, maybe just one time), we actually add meat to recipes. This is one/that time.

(Adapted from Eating Well)

4 tsp. olive oil, divided
tube o’ polenta, cut into cubes
grass-fed beef (a small steak’s worth, maybe ½ pound), sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small-ish onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ tsp paprika
1 15-oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 package baby spinach (4-5 cups)
¾ cup vegetable broth
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tsp. sherry vinegar

1. Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak and cook until browned (and safe to eat), about 5-7 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Add the cubed polenta to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown and get kinda crispy (about 10 minutes). Remove from the skillet and set aside.

3. Turn the heat down to medium and add 2 more tsp. of oil to the skillet.

4. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the pepper is tender-crisp (3-5 minutes).

5. Add the paprika to the skillet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the white beans, spinach and vegetable broth to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted.

6. Add the beef to the skillet. Stir to combine.

7. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, sherry vinegar and polenta.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato and Avocado Pasta

I was skeptically optimistic about this dish for two reasons. First, I was really uncertain about mixing the strong flavors of basil and green bell peppers. Verdict: DELICIOUS! Second, because the Aztecs thought avocados looked like testicles, they called them ahuacatl (testicle) and forbade virgins from leaving their homes during the avocado harvest. For some reason, this led to the belief that avocados are aphrodisiacs. Verdict: Wouldn’t you like to know?

(Adapted* from Intercourses)

*Just a reminder: When we say “adapted” we mean it. We have a tendency to mess with the quantities of ingredients and change/omit some stuff completely. We, of course, think our version is better, but please consult the original recipes if/when you doubt our wisdom.

1 tbsp. EVOO
¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. lime juice
1 green bell pepper, diced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 avocado, diced
1 package quinoa spaghetti

1. Combine everything but the pasta in a large bowl.

2. Cook the pasta until al dente.

3. Add the pasta to the rest of the ingredients and toss well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things I Learned: 2/8/11

-Feb 1 is National Freedom Day, a day to commemorate Lincoln’s signing of the 13th Amendment (that’s the one that outlawed slavery). I am embarrassed that I’m just learning this now.

-The tailbone is unnecessary, just like the appendix.

-Kids have more taste buds than adults.

-They only change the plastic cover on the fish scale at Hannaford after 3-4 customers so if you’re allergic to shrimp, tell them before they weigh your fish. (Luckily I narrowly missed learning this the hard way.)

-Proper running form is controlled falling. Therefore, running in the snow with Makai on a leash attached to my waist should be amazing training.

-Onion juice is a commonly recommended natural cough remedy. Pete wouldn’t try it.

-The term “put a sock in it” comes from a method of dealing with the lack of volume control on the first gramophones. To lower the volume, people would shove a sock in the horn.

-When cheetahs run they exhale when their front paws touch the ground (because their internal organs slosh forward and slam into their lungs).

-Woodpeckers peck wood at a rate of 22 pecks per second and experience decelerations of 1200g. (Humans get concussions when they experience decelerations between 80 and 100g.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gluten-Free Beer-Battered Tilapia Tacos

Super speedy and yummy. Perfect Super Bowl dinner.

(Adapted from Eating Well)

2-4 tilapia filets (farmed in the U.S. or central America), cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup gluten-free beer (we used Redbridge)
5 tbsp. all purpose gluten-free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 tsp. canola oil
1 avocado, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, sliced
brown rice tortillas, heated
lime juice
crumbled feta cheese

1.If desired, sauté the onion for 3-5 minutes. We did this because we both love the taste of red onions, but hate the never-ending after-taste. If you (and you’re loved ones) don’t have a problem with the after-taste (and smell) of red onions, skip this step.

2. Combine avocado, tomatoes and onion in a medium bowl. Add a splash (a tablespoon or so) of lime juice and mix well. Set aside.

3. Combine beer and flour in a small bowl. Mix well to get rid of any clumps of flour. It’ll be pretty runny.

4. Heat canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Dip tilapia in batter and then plop in the skillet. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-4 minutes per side.

6. Build a taco: Top a tortilla with the avocado salsa, a few pieces of fish and a sprinkling of feta. Fold it into a taco and eat.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower

This is delicious! We know what you’re thinking…cauliflower can be good, but the term “delicious” is rarely used to describe this boring-looking veggie. Trust us. We know yumminess—and boring-ness. This is yumminess (despite its bland appearance).

On another note, this recipe starts with an odd step (boiling the garlic). We suspect this speeds up the roasting process so that the garlic and cauliflower are done at the same time, but our knowledge of cooking chemistry is not so impressive. So, if you know the reason for this step, please enlighten us.

(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa “How Easy is That?”)

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1 big head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into large florets
4 ½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the garlic cloves and boil for 15 seconds. Drain the cloves, peel ‘em and cut the big cloves in half lengthwise.

3. Combine cauliflower, garlic and 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl. Toss to make sure everything is coated in the oil.

4. Spread the cauliflower mixture out in a single layer on an edged baking sheet.

5. Roast for 10 minutes, stir. Roast for 10-15 minutes more until the cauliflower is tender and starting to brown.

6. Dump the cauliflower (and everything else from the baking sheet) into a large bowl. Add the pine nuts, lemon juice and 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil. Toss and serve.