kim photo of jeanhee kim

June 30, 2009

Compliments from a Gourmand

I would love one day to take an Indian cooking class. I love curries in all different colors and spice variations and I appreciate how quick it can be to cook up a flavorful, mouthwatering meal in a relatively short amount of time–from scratch. As it is, I learned one recipe a long time ago, and basically make it over and over again with different ingredients and I am positive I would probably insult an actual South Asian with my complete ignorance of which spices go with which to make curries that have names and distinct and particular flavors. All of my curries are the same color of yellowish brown. Nonetheless, it does seem to work for me to keep this simple spice mix in my repertoire.
We had a small piece of cod in the freezer that was probably just one adult portion if served as a entree, but could serve all of us if made into a fish curry. So last night I did my usual Indian spice mix (I hesitate to reveal it as I’m sure this is as inauthentic as it could be but I use various proportions of turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala plus whole seeds of cumin and mustard) fried with onions, garlic scapes (from our CSA — otherwise I would use garlic and if I had more energy, some minced ginger too) and olive oil (I know! but we are mostly non-dairy so ghee is out of the question) until it formed a paste. Then, because I wanted to make a soupy fish curry, I emptied an entire can of diced tomatoes and hoped for the best.

Once the mixture had simmered for a few minutes I added yellow squash, then green peas, then the cod, cut into bite-size chunks. Covered, simmered on low. And ready to eat!

Oh! So here’s where it gets weird again. I didn’t think I had time to make rice and anyway, I didn’t want to eat rice so I whipped up a quick soft polenta and served the fish curry over a large dollop of it on each plate. It was delicious, I must say.

The best part was that my three-and-three-quarters-years-old daughter stopped mid-bite and said, Oma, you’re a good cooker!

I had a smile on my face the entire night!Messy Dinner June 09

This is the ordinary aftermath of dinner at the Kimelias

these days.

jeanhee @ 11:00 pm

June 23, 2009

Red Wine pasta sauce?

Tonight’s dinner made really good use of several veggies in our share today. Escarole, spinach and swiss chard if I wanted to throw that in (I decided to save it for another night), plus I used the garlic scapes in place of garlic. And we had a tossed salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and I pan-fried tofu to add a little obvious protein to our meal (I am told grains have protein so not to worry about adding it too much but I can’t help but feel the protein should be obvious — a holdover from traditional meat-centered eating I guess!)

The recipe is from Alice Waters’ Vegetarian book. It is linguine with a sauce made from red wine, escarole, spinach, onions and garlic. The onions caramelize and chopped capers are thrown in at the end to add some zing. I was not convinced this would be a great dish but I was willing to try it once. Now I plan to keep it on my list of go-to pasta dishes. My only problem was that the recipe I found on the internet was on a UK site so it was all in metric. I have no idea what the actual measurements are as I literally just guessed at everything but it turned out great except for being a bit on the dry side. Next time I will ladle some of the pasta cooking water into the dish before serving.

Oh! and I want to try this recipe for Mizuna salad with crispy fried chickpeas and tahini vinaigrette.

I am not sure we’ll be getting mizuna again though. Last year, I felt overwhelmed with large bunches of mizuna and this year the one bunch I got so far was on the small side. What an interesting growing season this must be. All the rain! I bought a pound of gorgeous red strawberries at the Union Square market last weekend and they were disappointingly tasteless. For Father’s Day pancakes with strawberry compote, however, I doctored them with some lemon juice and a teaspoon of raw sugar. It did work and Luke loved the pancakes and strawberries but given how much I paid for the strawberries, they were disappointing!

jeanhee @ 11:54 pm

June 18, 2009

A New Season with the CSA

Tonight we had a delicious meal that I will definitely make again. I had to admit that it felt weird to make a one-dish dinner that had no main starch like rice, pasta or potatoes. I even bought a box of udon noodles just in case I was struck by inspiration with a pasta sauce that would complement the rest. But once the tofu was done on the grill, I just decided to trust that a great-flavored dish would satisfy. I was mostly right. As many an Atkins’ dieter can attest, it’s hard to change one’s eating habits to get rid of carbs!

So, the dish tonight was a vegetarian take on Nobu’s famous Black Cod with Miso signature dish. Instead of cod, we used extra-firm tofu. And we placed the hot slices of tofu on a mizuna and crisp lettuce salad dressed with a citrusy yuzu vinaigrette (except that I didn’t have a chance to go to the Asian market today so I blended lemon and lime juice instead). I adjusted from the recipe slightly by adding thinly sliced red bell pepper and cucumber, mostly just because we had it in the fridge, and also because I wasn’t sure baby Jemma and her big sis Chiara would find enough interesting things to pick out and eat. I didn’t have to worry about Chiara; she ate everything but the sliced bell peppers. Jemma liked the cucumber and ate some of the tofu. I didn’t put the miso paste on Jemma’s tofu, however, since it was made from reduced sake and mirin. I doubt it still had much alcohol, but why give her any at this age?

here’s the recipe, from a great site I just discovered, Vegetarian Recipes and Cooking.

Nobu-Style Tofu with Miso Sauce & Mizuna Greens

2 blocks of extra firm tofu
1 TB soy sauce
1/2 TB brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp. white pepper

For miso sauce:
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1 cup white miso paste
1/2 cup sugar

4 cups mizuna greens or baby arugula
1 TB fresh yuzu juice (or half-lemon, half-lime juice)
2 TB grapeseed oil
1 tsp. garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Hajikami, for garnish
Crispy fried shallots, for garnish

Slice blocks of tofu crosswise to form 4 tofu “steaks”. Combine soy, brown rice syrup, and white pepper. Brush this mixture on the tofu and grill over low heat until tofu is nicely browned on both sides.

Bring sake and mirin to boil in a pan for 20 seconds to evaporate alcohol. Turn the heat down to low and stir in miso. Once miso is incorporated, turn heat up to medium and add sugar (continue stirring to keep from burning). Stir until mixture is smooth, being careful not to boil (which removes the nutrients from the miso).

Blend yuzu (or lemon-lime) juice with grapeseed oil, garlic, pepper, and soy and toss with greens. Place 1 cup of greens on each plate and garnish with fried shallots. Place one tofu “steak” over greens and ladle miso sauce over the top. Garnish with hajikami, if desired.

jeanhee @ 12:18 am