Needs a little protein

Brown-rice salad with spinach and tomatoes

Green vegetable stir fry

Thanks, feta!

Thanks, feta!

Kudos, tofu!

Kudos, tofu!

Here are two recipes that just need a little something to save them from themselves.  The first is the brown rice salad.  It’s not some great elements: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, a nice dressing, and some nutty brown rice.  Know what it’s missing?  Some kind of protein, preferably of the dairy variety.  It’s got cucumbers and dill, so it’s already vaguely Greek.  In steps feta, and it’s perfect.

Then there’s the green vegetable stir fry.  So so good.  So so so little going on besides vegetables.  Leeks, snow peas, bok choy, celery, ginger.  I served it on brown rice, and that helped.  Again, it needed protein.  Delicious cheese didn’t really seem right (not that it ever seems wrong), but tofu was perfect.  Please take a second look at those cubes.  I have a slightly (read: extremely) anal trick for stir frying tofu.  Cut the tofu into cubes.  True cubes with nearly equal sized sides.  Heat up some vegetable oil.  Place the cubes into the hot oil and turn them every 3-4 minutes.  I turn them by knocking them over on to another side and paying attention to which sides are brown and which are white.  This way, it all gets evenly fried.  You have to be willing to sit with a pair of tongs and gently bob tofu cubes on to their sides by a quarter turn.  If that sounds like madness, just stir them…like the lout that you are!  Either way, the tofu adds the protein and makes this a satisfying meal.

Something has happened with this green veggie stir fry that hasn’t happened with this blog in a very long time.  The recipe is not online.  Sonofa!  So I’m going to do you a solid and give you the recipe, adapted for to add the protein and brown rice that it needs.

Green vegetable stir fry (adapted from Everyday Food issue # 69 January/February 2010 p. 91)

  • 2 medium leeks (white and green parts only), halved lengthwise and rinsed well
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 T minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head bok choy (3/4 pound), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 c snow peas, trimmed
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • coarse salt (omit if using normal broth or substitute a little soy sauce when you serve it)
  • 1/4 low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • cooked brown rice for serving
  • block of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into perfect 1-inch cubes
  1. In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 T of the vegetable oil on medium-high heat.  Place the cubes into the hot oil and turn them a quarter turn onto a new side every 3-4 minutes, browning them evenly.  Pay attention to the first turn, you may find you need more or less cooking time to brown the cubes.
  2. In the meantime, cut leeks into 2-inch pieces; separate layers.  Heat another large skillet (your biggest, widest saucepan is a good choice here) or wok over medium-high heat until hot.  Add another 1 T oil, swirl to coat skillet.  Add half the ginger, half the garlic, and half the leeks.  You’re doing the veggies in two batches because they are going to lose a lot of liquid.  Stir until the leeks begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.  Increase heat to high; add half the bok choy, half the snow peas, and half the celery.  Season with salt or soy sauce, if using low-sodium broth.  Stir until vegetables begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add half the borth; toss until snow peas are bright green, 1 minute. Transfer veggies to a platter or big bowl.
  3. Repeat all of that stir frying with the remaining ingredients.  Remember that’s: ginger, garlic, and leeks, then bok choy, snow peas, and celery.
  4. Serve over brown rice with pan-fried tofu cubes on top.  Season with soy sauce, as desired (as they say in cookbooks)
Advertisements

Pot o’ Gold? No.

One-pot chicken and brown rice

If that doesn't look bland, adjust your monitor settings.

If that doesn’t look bland, adjust your monitor settings.

This is my attempt at making a St. Patrick’s Day post two days too late.  There’s green from the celery, and it’s a pot, but not a pot of gold.  Sigh.  I tried.  I also give a great big sigh to this recipe.  So boring.  It’s chicken and rice.  I guess it’s not supposed to blow my mind.  Yes, it only takes one pot.  Whee.  Sorry.  Maybe I’m not more enthusiastic because my mom went through a three year phase of making chicken and rice for almost every dinner, and I’ve been scarred.  Also, the rice wasn’t cooked.  That’s probably just a brown rice thing.  I think asking brown rice, vegetables, and chicken to all show up at the right temperature and consistency at the right time is too much to ask.  I’ve got an Arroz con Pollo recipe from a Williams Sonoma cookbook that is one pot, cooked in the oven, and utterly flawless.  The difference?  White rice.

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day dear readers.  Maybe next year we will have corned beef and cabbage or something.

Surprising baby food

Spinach frittata with green salad

Yes, we are definitely in the "healthy issue."

Yes, we are definitely in the “healthy issue.”

Braised collards with tomatoes

It's a good thing, y'all!

It’s a good thing, y’all!

Black-bean and brown-rice cakes

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something....

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something….

No one needs to tell me how lucky I am that my son is a great eater.  It is a huge relief and a blessing.  He doesn’t always eat a ton of what’s put in front of him, and it sometimes takes him three tries to really get to like something, but he is a pretty adventurous eater for a toddler.  I’ve been told many times by doctors and other professional types that this will ratchet back and he will go through a picky stage where he’ll only want mac and cheese.  But I’m enjoying this adventurous baby while I’ve got him.  Which brings me to the point of this post, these were three recipes that I served my little guy and didn’t think he’d really like them.  Spinach, collard greens, and black bean burgers with cilantro sauce don’t typically show up on the kids’ menu.  D and I liked one of these recipes very much, one pretty much, and one we were super pumped that the baby could eat it for us.  🙂

The braised collards were out-G.D.-standing.  They take a legitimate three hours plus, but that’s mostly just time on the stove.  I was lucky enough to buy pre-washed and pre-chopped collard greens, so this was just a matter of cutting up an onion and smashing some garlic cloves for me.  And the taste is wonderful.  I’m not really one for soul food.  I’m just not.  I lived in Georgia for a year when I was a kid, but I never developed a taste for it.  I don’t cook southern style stuff (which D actually really likes…sorry sweetie) and my affinity for Everyday Food plays right into that.  With the exception of the occasional BBQ summertime menu, Everyday Food keeps well above the Mason-Dixon line.  D was actually very surprised to see this one.  I believe the exact quote was “This is Everyday Food?  Ham hock, black eyed peas, and collards?!”  Well, to quote the great Scarlett O’Hara, “Fiddle dee dee!”  This is a delicious meal.  The slow cooking melds the flavors together beautifully to make a mild dish.  This is wonderful comfort food.  I will definitely make this one again.

Now the one we pretty much all three agreed on: the frittata and green salad.  The green salad was what it said it was.  Let’s leave it at that.  The frittata was nice.  It uses more egg whites than egg yolks, which leaves you in the difficult position of either doing something with all of those extra egg yolks or just throwing them out.  B suggested I make mayonnaise or orange curd.  These were fine ideas.  ….  I threw the yolks out a week later.  If you can think of something to do with the yolks or if you don’t mind pitching them, this is a fine recipe.  Or you could be a little less health-conscious and just leave them in.  I won’t tell.

All three members of my little clan loved the frittata on the first day.  J ate it up with minimal ketchup.  D and I both enjoyed it.  We had an extra one for dinner for J the next day, and I was dismayed to hear that he didn’t like it until D told me that the texture got really rubbery when he reheated it.  Maybe that’s because it’s mostly egg whites?  I don’t usually have a problem reheating egg dishes like quiche.  I’ll blame the egg whites.  Yet another reason to sneak those suckers back in there…

Last and least (depending on who you ask), the recipe that J loved and the adults haaaaated: the black bean and brown rice burgers.  Wow.  It’s not that they’re bad.  They’re not.  They’re just so bland.  Yes, even with all that jalapeno and cumin and the yogurt-cilantro sauce.  They tasted like refried beans.  We put them on rolls, added a bunch of the sauce, more cilantro, some red onion.  It tasted like…refried beans on a roll with a bunch of sauce, cilantro, and red onion.  J could not disagree more with this.  He ate all of our leftovers.  I want to say he ate these something like three or four days in a row.  He even ate one of the ones with jalapenos in it (we made separate burgers for the grownups) when my mom mistakenly fed him one.  He liked that one, too.  More power to you, J.

Broccoli and salmon, in that order

Glazed Salmon with Spicy Broccoli

"This is my daughter, Dottie.  This is my other daughter, Dottie's sister."

“This is my daughter, Dottie. This is my other daughter, Dottie’s sister.”

This broccoli will haunt my dreams.  D and I were both very angry that there wasn’t more.  The glaze was nice on the salmon, but the broccoli was the real star of the show.  It’s just soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and some hot pepper flakes, but the combination is magic.  You’ve never been more excited to eat broccoli, trust me.  Oh, D did bump up the amount of garlic by half.  That couldn’t have hurt.  The best way I can try to explain how this broccoli tastes is that it tastes like really good Chinese food.  It is sweet, sour, and salty, but not greasy.

It’s an easy and quick recipe too.  D felt that the big problem with this recipe was that it calls for cooked brown rice in the ingredients list rather than giving you instructions on when to start the rice, how to cook it, and so on.  I’m of two minds about this one.  On one hand, we don’t need to be told how to cook rice, do we?  On the other hand, Everyday Food recipes are always giving the instructions on how to cook pasta.  Boiling pasta is arguably easier and more intuitive than cooking rice.  It is helpful to know if maybe you should start the rice first or take care of some other prep first.  All this is moot, however, because we used the instant brown rice from Aldi.  No recipe is going to include instructions on how to make instant rice.

Back to the real issue here: why am I not eating that broccoli right now?  This cup of tea, could it be filled with broccoli instead?  I think D and I will keep this recipe in mind, but probably just for the broccoli.