Archive | April, 2012

Bento Box Lunch Wednesday

18 Apr

Sad news, guys.  Some weirdo stole my frickin’ lunch box out of the communal fridge at the law school.  Which, it’s not weird to want to possess a really cool tiny little lunch box, I guess.  But they left the containers that were inside of the lunch box – meaning they specifically opened the lunch box, removed the containers, and then took the box but not the containers.  Thus, a weirdo.  Anyway, because I still have the inner containers, bento box lunch Wednesdays live on.  Except minus the box.  The containers travel in a plastic bag now until I have emotionally recovered enough to order another lunch box.

This box is made up of leftovers from homemade General Tso’s tofu, some rice, a small and simple salad, and some shelled edamame with soy sauce.  I suggest you remove the tofu dish to the rice container and then microwave those together, leaving the edamame and salad nice and cool for munching.

Bento Box Lunch Wednesday

Bento Components:

About 1 cup jasmine rice, cooked

1 serving General Tso’s tofu

Large handful lettuce with splash of rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper

1/4 cup shelled edamame, tossed with 1 tbs. soy sauce

¹To make rice component:

Bring 1 cup of water to a rolling boil.  Add a splash of preferred oil (I use olive oil).  Add 1/2 cup of jasmine rice.  Allow water to return to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is soft.

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Lemon Roasted Whole Bronzini

16 Apr

Zak and I decided to venture over to the West Side Market after a lovely lunch at Nate’s Deli to pick up some fresh fish and perhaps a vegetable or two.  After strolling around and checking out the options, we settled on a whole branzini, also known as bronzini, European sea bass, or Mediterranean sea bass, at Kate’s Fish.  I am always so happy to have taken a trip to the West Side Market, because we always return with a gem and have a great time shopping.

I love whole fish, first because it’s incredibly easy.  I was very intimidated the first time I bought one to cook, but now it’s my go-to choice for when I’m feeling a tad lazy but want guaranteed results.  I make sure the fishmonger has it scaled and gutted, perhaps with the fins cut off.  You basically need to follow a simple formula of rubbing with oil, seasoning, stuffing with aromatics, and then grilling, roasting, or steaming.  Another advantage is the serious price reduction versus a steak or fillet.  Finally, the flavor is excellent.  As any cook worth their salt should be well aware, bones, cartilage, and skin are more or less synonymous with flavor and moisture.  Unlike a standard fish fillet or steak, a whole fish has all three.

I prepared this lovely whole bronzini as simply as possible.  Olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemons go perfectly with fish.  The simple seasoning and high-heat roasting resulted in a moist and succulent fish that allowed the flavors of the bronzini to shine through.  I served this with some asparagus similarly prepared with a quick toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted in the oven.

Lemon Roasted Whole Bronzini

1 1 and 1/3 pound head on, whole bronzini

3-4 tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbs. black pepper

1 lemon, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450º.

Make sure fish is gutted and scaled.  Cut off all fins except the tail fin.  Rub liberally, inside and out, with olive oil.  Season both sides and the body cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff most of the lemon slices in the body cavity and lay a few on top of the fish.

Transfer the fish to a glass casserole dish in which it can lay flat.

Transfer to the oven and roast 25-35 minutes, until flesh flakes easily with a fork and reaches the internal temperature of 145º.

Serve immediately with extra lemon wedges for serving.

Chipotle and Coffee Tofu Wrap

14 Apr

I really enjoyed this interesting and easy wrap.  I loved the texture of the dry fried tofu as a meat substitute.  The chipotle and coffee marinade is very interesting, with a punch of spice and smokiness that balanced well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the corn.  Since the tofu is largely make-ahead (for instance, the night before or earlier in the afternoon before taking your vizsla¹ to the vet because he has been inexplicably limping for days), this dish is really easy and comes together very quickly.  You can customize the filling based on how industrious you are feeling and what you have on hand – had I been less lazy, I would have made a quick salsa out of the corn with onion and cilantro, or perhaps made some guacamole.  But this worked quite well in it’s simplicity, and I know all of us need some super-easy weeknight meals from time to time.  I packed the components separately in my bento box for lunch the next day, and it traveled well and tasted great cold.

Chipotle and Coffee Tofu Wrap

Chipotle and Coffee Tofu:

15 oz. block extra firm tofu

1 cup brewed coffee, chilled

2 chipotles in adobo, plus 1 tbs. adobo sauce

2-3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1/4 cup red wine, such as pinot noir

3 tbs. honey

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup water

Cut tofu unto 1/2″ wide strips.

Heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium-low heat.  Add tofu and cook about 10-15 minutes per side until moisture is leeched out and tofu is lightly golden brown.

Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

When tofu is done cooking, let cool until cool enough to handle and cut into cubes (about six per piece of tofu).  Add tofu and let marinate at least 2 hours.

Add tofu and a couple tablespoons of marinade to a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Cook until heated through and marinade as formed a light glaze.  Add to wrap (see below).

Wrap:

2 whole wheat tortillas

Chipotle and coffee tofu (see above)

1 cup plum tomates

3-4 tbs. olive oil

3 cups spinach, packed

1 cup corn, defrozed if frozen

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375º.

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast 20 minutes until lightly caramelized.  Pour tomato-infused oil over spinach and toss to slightly wilt.

Place tortilla on a plate.  Place in the microwave and microwave for 20 seconds to soften the tortilla and make for easier wrapping.  Add spinach, corn, roasted tomatoes, and tofu.  Make your wrap, either by rolling it into a tube with toppings to one side, a tube one end totally closed, or by folding over two ends about 2,” folding half of the tortilla over the toppings, and rolling closed (think Chipotle).

[Note:  I have to confess I’m terrible at making wraps so my instructions are pretty junky, but no matter what method you use, it’s going to taste about the same, so don’t fret too much.]

¹Who, me?

Creamy Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes with Dill and Mustard Sauce

12 Apr

While rooting around in my crisper drawers, I found some dill hanging on to dear life and knew I needed to use it immediately.  So, rooting around the pantry, I settled on beans with some mustard and dill.  Zak wanted tomatoes, and I was happy to accommodate him.

This simple dish is very flavorful and satisfying.  The punch of garlic and dill plays really well with the tangy dijon mustard, sweet honey, and acid of the tomatoes.  The beans were extremely creamy due to the frequent stirring.  I’m always pleasantly surprised when a dish that is extremely healthy is also extremely flavorful – a true testament to the fact that you don’t need to add butter, cheese (at least, not much of it), meat, or bad-for-you oils and fats to create a dish that is filling and tasty.

Creamy Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes with Dill and Mustard Sauce

2 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

2 cups plum tomatoes, halved

2-3 bay leaves

6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

1 lemon, juiced

2 tbs. dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2-3 tbs. Parmesan, grated (optional)

In a large sauté pan or cast iron pan, add cannellini beans, tomatoes, bay leaves, and 3-4 of the cloves of garlic.  Add two cups of water so the beans and tomatoes are mostly submerged.  Season with freshly cracked black pepper.  Turn on heat to very low.

Add remaining garlic cloves and dill to a food processor.  Pulse a few times until garlic cloves are finely chopped.  Add lemon juice, mustard, and honey.  With food processor running, slowly add olive oil until emulsified.  Taste for seasonings and add kosher salt and black pepper as desired.

Continue simmering beans and tomatoes.  A few bubbles should break the surface of the water every minute.  Stir frequently, cooking for 30-45 minutes until most of the water is evaporated.  Raise heat to high and cook, stirring continuously, until almost all moisture is evaporated.  Remove whole garlic cloves and bay leaves.  Toss with dressing.  Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Mushroom and Rice Enchiladas

9 Apr

I know sometimes I go a bit overboard on the homemade components of dishes.  For example, in my other enchilada dish I made homemade tortillas, homemade chipotle enchilada sauce, homemade guacamole, etc.  I know most people, myself included, really don’t have time to make every little part of a dish from scratch in an average week.  As much as I love it and think it generally improves the health and taste of most dishes, sometimes you just want a satisfying, tasty, and relatively quick meal.  So I used premade tortillas and canned enchilada sauce for this dish.

And, of course, it was still really delicious and quite healthy.  Yeah, it’s cheesy – in the creamiest, savoriest, cheddary-est sort of way.  But it also contains whole grains in the form of brown rice and the tortilla, and both mushrooms and corn.  The mushrooms are meaty, the rice is filling, and the corn is sweet.  The green peppers and enchilada sauce add just the right amount of heat.  The oyster mushrooms are perfect here because they have a very meaty and rich umami flavor compared to some other varieties, but button or crimini mushrooms could certainly be substituted if you’re having trouble finding affordable oyster mushrooms.

Mushroom and Rice Enchiladas

1/2 cup brown rice, cooked according to package instructions

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted

1 cup oyster mushrooms

1 tbs. olive oil

1 4 oz. can whole green chiles, roughly chopped

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

2 heaping tbs. low fat ricotta

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 19 oz. can hot red enchilada sauce

5 whole wheat tortillas

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

On a tinfoil lined baking sheet, toss mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, mix together cooked rice, corn kernels, green chiles, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, ricotta, chili powder, and cumin.  When mushrooms are roasted, add mushrooms and stir to combine thoroughly.

Heat enchilada sauce in a pan large enough to fit tortillas.  Once barely simmering, one at a time add enchiladas.  Turn over almost immediately until lightly coated with sauce.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Transfer sauce-coated tortilla to the casserole.  Add 2-3 heaping tbs. filling and roll up, tucking in ends loosely.  Slide to one side of the pan and repeat with remaining tortilla shells.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Cover with tinfoil and transfer to oven.  Bake 35 minutes until heated through.  Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with avocado and plain Greek yogurt or sour cream and topped with roughly chopped cilantro.

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