I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dinners Week of 08/09

Sunday: Dinner out in Berkeley after Peter Pan

Monday: Korean Braised Tofu*, soba noodles and pan-roasted pimientos de padron and shishito peppers; blackberries, plain yogurt and brown sugar for dessert
Tofu recipe was a definite keeper, riffed off of a recipe from Quick and Easy Korean Cooking, from my beloved Chronicle Books series. The pimientos de padron have been running hot, so the folks at Happy Quail Farms suggested we buy Shishito peppers, which she described as "just like the padrons but never hot." "Really?" I asked. "Really," she assured me. Not so, they have a different, floral but slightly more bitter profile and much tougher skins. The padrons win hands-down.

Tuesday: Shrimp Egg Foo Young
We had been talking about old school childhood foods. Mana made a lightened up version with just eggs, shrimp, bean sprouts and green onions, and a light oyster sauce. It was delicious with brown rice.

Wednesday: Tacos los Altos with friends
Too hot to cook.

Thursday: Shrimp, Pea and Orzo Pasta, Green Salad and Banana Bread
Aunt D brought her A game for sure. I used the Cook's Illustrated Banana Bread recipe as usual, but replaced half the flour with w/w pastry flour. Absolutely the best ever.

Friday: Grilled flank steak, potato-stuffed pasilla and bell peppers**, cherry tomato couscous***
Shabbat dinner with friends combined with major fridge cleaning in anticipation of vacation. I came across the two sides recipes this week, each made ample use of something that needs using from the CSA box. Both were outstanding, totally worth making again. R LOVED the peppers, MZ went for the couscous salad.

Saturday: Zuni Cafe for our anniversary

*Korean Braised Tofu
This recipe should be quite spicy, but since MZ isn't there yet, I changed the recipe quite a bit and we added gochujang at the table. So this is hardly Korean at all anymore, but it is very very tasty. It was great served over soba noodles, but I really would have loved it with short-grain white rice.

1 block firm tofu
2 T canola or grapeseed oil
2 T warm water
1 t white miso
2 T soy sauce
1 T mirin
2 garlic cloves, minced or run through a garlic press
4 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 T sesame seeds

Wipe the block of tofu dry and slice the tofu into 1/2" slices. Set the slices out on a jellyroll pan lined with paper towels while assembling the rest of the ingredients. Pat the tofu slices dry on top and sides.

Heat a 10-12" nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when it is very hot but not yet smoking, add the tofu slices. Brown on each side ~5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the warm water and miso, whisk, then add the remaining sauce ingredients.

When the tofu is browned on both sides, pour the sauce over and around the slices, flip any pieces with a lot of garlic on top, cover and turn heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes and serve. Garnish with additional green onions for a shot of color.

**Potato-Stuffed Pasilla Peppers
Adapted from a recipe on the Happy Quail Farms website, this recipe reminds me of the best street tacos we've ever had, served from a cart in Mexico City's main Zocalo. The tacos included grilled steak, peppers and onions with a smear of mashed potatoes, topped with cotija cheese. They were so addictive we went there on our last night instead of someplace fancy. So it was a natural to serve this with grilled flank steak. Serves 6

6 pasilla or green bell peppers
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled feta
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly spray a shallow baking pan that is big enough to hold peppers snugly together, holding each other upright (use balled up foil if they need propping). Slice the top (stem end) from each pepper and set aside. Keeping pepper shells intact, remove seeds and ribs. Arrange shells in prepared dish and bake while making the filling.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil while chopping the flesh of the pepper tops, discarding stems. Add peppers to pan and sauté while peeling and slicing the potatoes. Add potatoes and 1/4 cup water, cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring half-way through, until potatoes soften.

Remove from heat and stir in mustard, cilantro, feta, salt, and pepper. Remove partially baked pepper shells from oven and fill with potato mixture. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until filling is golden brown and peppers are tender, about 25 minutes.

The perfect foil for high summer produce, this recipe came together easily, was ridiculously tasty when freshly made, and overnighted well in the fridge for a delicious cold salad the next day. I made very few changes: I used whole wheat couscous; I added 1/4 t Dijon mustard to the citrus juice mixture in the bowl prior to whisking in the EVOO to emulsify the vinaigrette; and I added three thinly sliced scallions (which, incidentally, were extremely popular with the 4 yos at the table). Another winner from 101 Cookbooks!

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