Sunday, February 7, 2010

Do you ever eat at home?

That was a question I received from a reader.

Yes, I do. In fact, this is what I made today for lunches/dinners for the week:

Stir-Fried Tofu, Red Cabbage and Winter Squash (minus the winter squash because Kroger was out):

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar or honey

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

1/2 pound firm tofu, cut in 1- x 2-inch dominoes

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 pound butternut squash, cut in 1/2-inch dice

Salt to taste

1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped

Rice, bulgur or buckwheat noodles for serving

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the rice wine vinegar, sugar or honey, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates upon contact. Add the tofu, and stir-fry until lightly colored, about three minutes. Remove from the pan, and season to taste with soy sauce.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan. When it is hot, add the butternut squash. Stir-fry until it begins to color, five to eight minutes. Add salt to taste, the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds, and add the cabbage. Stir-fry until the squash is tender and the cabbage is crisp-tender, about six minutes, adding about 1/4 cup water to the pan from time to time if the vegetables begin to stick. Return the tofu to the pan.

4. Stir the sweet and sour mixture, and add to the vegetables. Stir just for a few seconds until they are glazed. Remove from the heat and serve with grains or noodles.

I also made Soupe au Pistou, minus the pistou, pasta, and I had to use up a bag of many beans so I didn't just stick to white beans:

For the soup:

1 1/2 cups white beans, soaked for six hours in 6 cups water and drained

2 quarts water

1 large onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme and parsley, a Parmesan rind and a bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 14-ounce can, with liquid

2 cups shredded savoy or green cabbage

2 large carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 medium-size zucchini, scrubbed and diced

2 medium-size turnips, peeled and diced

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups), blanched for five minutes and set aside

1/2 cup soup pasta, such as macaroni or small shells

Freshly ground pepper

For the pistou:

2 large garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed

Salt to taste

2 cups, tightly packed, fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan for sprinkling

1. Drain the white beans and combine with 2 quarts water in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam, then add half the onion, half the garlic and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add salt to taste.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet, and add the remaining chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the leeks and remaining garlic. Stir together for a few minutes, and add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and the mixture is fragrant, five to 10 minutes. Stir this mixture into the soup pot, add all of the remaining vegetables except the green beans, and bring back to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

3. While the soup is simmering, blanch the green beans for five minutes in salted boiling water. Transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Drain and set aside.

4. To make the pistou, mash the garlic with a generous pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Remove it and set aside. Grind the basil to a paste in the mortar, a handful at a time, then add the garlic back in and mix together well. Work in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time, then stir in the cheese.

5. Add the pasta to the simmering soup about 10 minutes before serving, and cook until cooked al dente. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt. Stir the blanched green beans into the soup and heat through. Serve, adding a spoonful of pesto to each bowl for guests to stir in. Pass additional Parmesan for sprinkling.

So there you have it! Yes, I do cook!

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