Sunday, February 24, 2008

Japanese Fried Tofu and Vegetarian Sushi

Last weekend I tried a new recipe from one my all time favorite recipe books: "Easy Vegetarian Dinners"

The recipe looked so sophisticated- for the longest time I thought it was too complicated for me. But, it did come from "Easy" vegetarian how hard could it be?

It was great! The recipe involves thinly slicing snow peas, red and orange sweet peppers and frying them in sesame oil. I just barely toasted the vegetables so they maintained their crispness, and I used a very small amount of sesame oil so that the flavor of the vegetables was preserved.

The tofu was also very easy to prepare. I took a regular package of extra firm tofu and cut it into 8 large slices. These were soaked in soy sauce for about 1 hour. Then, I coated each slice in an ample amount of cornmeal before pan frying it in a small amount of olive oil.

The tofu fried easily to a golden brown color in just a few minutes. This did not take long.. so I was looking for something else to prepare. According to the cookbook, the tofu is Japanese style, so I thought-- why not sushi? I had all of the ingredients handy from my last sushi experience. For sushi filling I had cucumber, carrot (I only had baby carrots, so I thinly sliced a few of those and called it good) and some avocado.

The sushi rice cooked quickly, since I only prepared 1/2 cup. I quickly added rice vinegar, following the recipe on the vinegar bottle. Once mixed, I spread the rice on the nori and rolled (as best I could.. I am no sushi expert) the rice together with a spread of toppings. Served with pickled ginger and wasabi, it wasn't bad at all! I topped the rolls with sesame seeds, and topped the fried tofu with sesame seeds as well. I had two problems with the meal: first- the fried tofu was missing some salt. The one hour soak in soy sauce wasn't enough for the hunk of tofu. Next time I will add salt to the cornmeal batter as well. Second-- I was missing saki! I was very pleased to find out that Trader Joes sells saki in its drink section.. be sure to pick some up while getting supplies for a meal like this! Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

New York City and the Giants Game!

OMG the Giants won the superbowl! Ok, so I confess, I am not much of a football person. BUT- I did watch the Giants v. Packers game, and that got me a little excited..since the game went into OT and all... It doesnt hurt that I was watching it with die-hard fans. Plus the thought of football themed food is delightful!! (Ok Ok, I'll admit it, I was a little more excited about the thought of food than the game)

After that game, my die-hard Giants fan Gavin called me up and invited me to watch the game at his superbowl party: in Hoboken NJ. We drove up, and of course, made a weekend of it. Saturday, we went into the city to eat in Little Italy. We walked into La Nonna, after strolling down Mulberry Street and being enticed by the menu. I ordered the special: a fettucini dish with crab meat. We also ordered two bottles of wine for the table. Halfway through my glass, the chef comes out with a cart that has the fettucini cooking in a pan on a burner. Next to the pan is a giant cheese wheel- similar to the display cheeses sold at Whole Foods. The rest is a bit hazy.. I think he coated the cheese top with oil... but then he LIT THE CHEESE WHEEL ON FIRE. The HUGE cheese wheel.

It was flaming pretty good now, and we were joking about the fire hazard when I genuinely started to worry. The flames were pretty big, after all, and this was a small little restaurant. Full of people. Without a second thought, the chef picked up the pan and dumped the crab and noodles into the flaming melted cheese wheel. He tossed the pasta and coated it with the freshly melted cheese.

A++ for presentation-- and I swear that it would be equally impressive to someone who hadnt had any wine! The food was deliciously cheesy (plus I got extra fresh parmesan grated on top) and the portion size was gigantic. Coupled with the soft but crusty bread and my trusty glass of red, I was in a state of food bliss.

The next day was spent lounging around and prepping for the Superbowl party. Breakfast was at the Bagel Smashery-- a wonderful concept of smooshing your bagel sandwiches to mix all the goodness together. Another bonus: they add ketchup into the egg and cheese sandwiches, pre-smashery. Add a cup of butterscotch coffee (my first cup ever.. it was delicious) and I was good to go. So sad though-- it appears the business is being sold. Who knows if it will retain its quality in the future :(

Later, I went to a drive-through beer pickup place with Gavin. No, that was not a typo. You DRIVE into the beer storage area and the workers will load whatever you want into your trunk. Kegs. 30-Packs. Soda. Whatever you want. Cool.

My dish for the superbowl party was simple, since we were travelling and I didnt feel like spending the whole day in the kitchen (though that is usually just my cup of tea..), I made cake. from a box. with store bought frosting. but hey-- at least I got creative with the icing.

And we all know how the game ended. Yay Giants!