Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

Scott came home the other night asking what he could make for his work pot-luck lunch. We remembered this recipe which is a fast, simple, and plentiful dish to take to any gathering. Our friend Emily made this dish once for a party, and we've been making it ever since. The original recipe is from epicurious.com.

J'aime: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons chopped or grated peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped (although I probably use 2 or 3)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

3/4 lb dried spaghetti
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper cut into strips
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Puree all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until noodles are cool to the touch. Transfer noodles into large mixing or serving bowl. Add peppers, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and peanut dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Maeve's Southwest Quinoa Salad

A few months ago my mom sent me a link to a childhood friend's blog for vegetarian recipes, which is really what got me blogging in the first place. One of the recipes she had on her blog was for a Southwest Quinoa Salad. It looked delicious, so I decided to try it. (Maeve takes beautiful pictures of everything she makes as she's making it. To view her pictures click on the hyperlink above.) I have to admit that the first night I thought there were too many flavors competing for attention. It wasn't that I didn't think it was good... I just wasn't sure I'd be making it again. And then I took it for lunch the next day... and the day after that... and then I made it a week later... and now I'm pretty much hooked. Even Scott liked it, and he doesn't eat salad! I'll be making it tomorrow for Mother's Day, so we'll see if it passes the Mommo test.

I didn't really alter the original recipe, but I will note the following:
1. I tried using pre-roasted frozen corn from Trader Joe's. Not a fan. The corn tastes more charred than anything, so consider yourself warned.
2. I don't recommend using falvored orange juice for the glaze. I tried Orange Peach Mango juice the second time around and found it entirely too sweet.
3. DO add tomato chewies. In the summer, when cherry and grape tomatoes are in season and you have more of them then you know what to do with, do the following: slice the tomatoes in half. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Place tomato halves onto oiled baking sheet in a single layer with the skin side down. Turn the oven on to 200°F and bake tomatoes for at least an hour or two. You'll know they're done when they're shriveled and dried looking. Cool these and stick them into a container. Freeze them and use them all winter for fresh tasting roasted tomatoes in your salad.

J'adore: Maeve's Southwest Quinoa Salad


1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock

2 cups mixed greens, washed dried and torn into bite sized pieces
1 avocado, peeled cored and diced
1 mango, peeled cored and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or tomato chewies (see above)
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp roasted salted sunflower seeds or pepitas

4 1/2 inch slices firm tofu, pressed in a paper towel to removed excess water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp chipotle ranch dressing, or substitute any southwest dressing

Combine quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off heat and let cool slightly. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Meanwhile, prepare fruits and vegetables. Heat a small skillet to medium high (without oil). Toss in frozen corn kernels along with a pinch of chili powder and allow to blacken in spots, one or two kernels may pop out of pan. Turn out onto cutting board and allow to cool.

Lay tofu slices out in a single layer. Season liberally with chili powder and lightly with salt, press seasoning into surface, flip and repeat on other side. Heat a very small amount of vegetable oil - just enough to lightly coat the bottom - in a small frying pan on medium high. (This technique for cooking tofu is easy in a nonstick skillet, can be done in a well seasoned cast iron pan with a flexible spatula, and proves very difficult in a stainless steel pan.) Lay tofu slices in pan shaking pan after they're in place to make sure they do not stick. Allow to cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes per side until a slight crust has formed. Quickly add orange juice, soy sauce, and honey to pan (they may spit at you, but it's worth it) allow to bubble away and reduce into a glaze, flip tofu slices, turn off heat and allow to cool slightly in pan.

To assemble salad, lay out a ring of mixed greens, pile quinoa in center, then sprinkle on black beans, corn, avocado, mango, and tomatoes. Then top with tofu slices drizzle on dressing and top with sunflower seeds.

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

This recipe appeared in the April 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. I've never been big on fake meats or fake cheeses mostly because I've never liked the taste of meat and I eat dairy products, but when I saw this recipe it looked good enough to try. I mostly taste the cracked peppercorns, but it's got just the right flavor and texture for me to make it again and again. I have not made any changes to the original recipe.

I recommend it on a sandwich with hearty bread, roasted red peppers, tomato slices, and basil. It's delicious.

J'aime: Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

3/4 cup raw cashews
6 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. tahini
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

1. Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight. (*I start them soaking on a Friday morning so that it can age overnight)
2. Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain. Puree cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 Tbs. water in a food processor for approx. 6 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
3. Place a large strainer over a bowl and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth. Fold sides of cloth over cheese and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends and secure with rubber bands or twist ties. Set in strainer over bowl and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. discard excess liquid. Chill at end of 12-hour period. (*If your kitchen is warmer than room temperature the cheese will get a little crusty on the outside. Best to do it on a cool day)
4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap and twist ends to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool and chill.
5. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle or roll in cracked peppercorn, pressing to adhere.