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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baked Tofu and Soba Wakame Soup


I collect food like other people collect knick knacks. While I plan out the week’s menu in advance and shop accordingly it still doesn’t stop me from tossing in various other things into the grocery cart. Lately, to use up some of the surplus, I’ve been trying to cut back on the pre-planned meals and improvise in order to use up everything I’ve been hoarding. This recipe was the result of me poking my head into the pantry and trying to figure out what I was going to have for dinner at the last minute.



I’m one of those people who actually likes tofu, even though it is pretty tasteless by itself.



Instead of adding in plain tofu I decided to marinade it before I tossed it into the oven to bake. I used a mixture of garlic (sorry, I was having a lazy food blogger day and used the stuff from the jar), ginger, sesame oil, maple syrup and rice vinegar. I was short on time so the tofu ended up just soaking for five minutes.


Going into the oven.


After 10 minutes at 450 I took them out of the oven to turn them.


After 20 minutes they were done. They look a little burnt but it’s just the marinade that makes them look so dark.


Instant soup. *gasp*. I can’t find dashi or dried wakame where I live so I ended up using instant soup packets. Even though I try to avoid using pre-packaged food sometimes I don’t have much of a choice.



I had some soba noodles that had been hanging around the pantry for a while that I decided to add to the soup. I love soba even though I don’t think about using it often. The noodles are made out of buckwheat flour and have a hearty texture and a slightly nutty taste.


Also some green onions.


I threw all the ingredients into the pot and let them boil away until the noodles were tender.


For an improvised meal this was pretty good. I liked the flavour of the tofu but next time I will let it marinate a lot longer so that the flavour gets stronger. The broth was savoury and went perfectly with the taste of the noodles. For a veggie meal this was rather filling. I don’t make a lot of Asian meals so this was a nice change. Tags:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Double Chocolate Jam Brownies


I am currently learning how to drive at the ripe old age of 28. Unfortunately we are still in the stone age and own a manual car. This leads to much cussing and me holding up traffic while I try to get the blasted car started again. Since chocolate will magically smooth away all crankiness I came home from a particularly rough driving lesson and made these brownies. While I wish that I had much more constructive way of coping with stress, say jogging or cleaning like some people I know, baking does have its own rewards. This recipe comes from a cookbook called “Cook in Boots”. I could not find a recipe online and since I don’t want to get sued I can’t post it. Sorry!

Double Chocolate Jam Brownies

Ingredient collage: butter, semi-sweet chocolate, brown sugar, white sugar and eggs.



As much as I love all things sugary made out of white flour they make my blood sugar crash. Since whole wheat flour makes baked goods taste more like hockey pucks I am trying out an enriched white flour blend. It has the texture of white flour but the fiber of whole wheat. Other than the fact that it is a little darker than white flour it pretty much has the same texture.


Here are all the ingredients together with some vanilla extract.


The batter.


The chocolate melted along with the butter.


All together now.


A handful of chocolate chips, hence the double chocolate in the recipe title.


I had just opened a new jar of jam which I wasn’t super crazy about. It was good but way too tart, so I decided to mix it in to the brownies for extra flavour.



I had to mix everything really well since the jam came out in one big gelatinous blob.


Ready to go in the oven.


After 35 minutes. I actually ended up using a bigger pan than what the recipe originally called for. Next time I will use an even bigger pan so everything cooks more evenly.



These came out very dense and are halfway between fudgey and cakey. The jam added a nice subtle flavour although next time I would add white chocolate chunks for more contrast instead of the chocolate chips. These are really good and they most definitely made up for my bad day! Tags: ,

Cheesy Beef Noodles (a.k.a. Homemade Hamburger Helper)


This is another recipe to put in the “Husband Friendly Food” file. I’ve never actually had hamburger helper but I image that this is what it tastes like. This recipe is pretty basic: cheese, noodles, sauce and meat but it’s pretty tasty and economical.


First off onions. I think there are very few recipes that don’t start off with chopped onions.


While that was going on I started boiling some egg noodles.


The original recipe calls for ground beef but The Husband bought ground bison instead. I personally like ground bison better than beef, it is actually leaner and has a nicer taste. It’s becoming more and more available. If you see it in the supermarket do give it a try.


I browned the meat along with the onions in a pan and added salt, pepper, minced garlic and chilli powder.


Also a dash of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.


To make the sauce I threw in a heaping tablespoon of flour and roughly a cup of chicken broth as well as a generous amount of cheddar cheese.


I let everything come to a boil until the cheese was melted and the sauce had thickened.


Once the noodles were done I drained them and stirred them into the sauce. I turned the heat on low and let the pasta sit so the flavours could come together and everything could thicken further.



This a nice change from the usual tomato based meat sauce and comes together really quickly. It really is one of those recipes for which you do not need to measure and pretty much any meat loving spouse or small child will eat. Tags: ,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spicy Seafood Romanov Pasta


I love scallops but I rarely think about making them. On a whim I decided to buy them at the supermarket this week without having any specific recipe in mind. One of the things I like to do when I don’t know what to do with an ingredient is to go on and look for recipes and get ideas. Looking around I found this recipe for creamy spicy seafood pasta. I decided to play around with it, keeping in mind that a lot of the reviews said that it was bland and try to “kick it up a notch” a la Old School Emiril.


Ingredient collage: Garlic (as much as you can stand), onion, red chilies, pureed tomatoes, chopped parsley and lots of vodka. Notice I put the most important ingredient in the middle? Booze makes pretty much everything taste better.


First of all, as usual, I browned the onions along with salt and pepper. Right before they were done I added in the garlic to cook quickly. I loathe burnt garlic so I don’t mind if it is under rather than over cooked.


Next was a big glug of the pureed tomatoes along with a splash of cream, a cheerful amount of vodka and the red chillies. I let it reduce a bit until it had a smooth creamy consistency.


I decided to rinse my scallops really well, I’ve eaten scallops that still have some sand in them and it does not make for a happy meal.


All the scallops went for a swim in the creamy sauce which resulted in them getting poached. On the plus side this makes for less dishes and faster prep, on the negative side this waters down the sauce. Next time I will pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and then sear them before adding them to the sauce.


Once the scallops were cooked I threw in the parsley and gave the sauce a taste. I ended up adding plenty of smoked Spanish paprika (buy this, it will change your life), a pinch of oregano and a pinch of dried basil as well as more salt and pepper. I taste everything as I’m cooking and constantly adjust the seasonings. Obviously, I don’t do this when there is raw meat involved as I have no interest in ending up in the hospital.



Make this. Impress the in-laws, the parents or just yourself. Unless you’re one of those lucky souls who lives near the ocean and has access to cheap seafood this isn’t exactly budget friendly as a family meal. This would work equally well with Nordic shrimp or shredded imitation crab. The ingredients are pretty much pantry staples and the whole thing takes less than half an hour to pull together. Definitely a repeat. Tags:
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