Saturday, November 19, 2016

szechuan celery tofu stir-fry

I've followed Fuchsia Dunlop on Twitter for years, and have heard her books are great. I can't buy every cookbook I want, though, I'm just not that much of a baller. A few weeks ago I finally got a library card again, and went through my Amazon Wishlist to reserve a bunch of the cookbooks I've been meaning to check out (see what I did there?) Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice will have to become a permanent addition to my collection. It's full of really great information and inspiring recipes. One that caught my eye was a celery beef stir-fry. Celery is usually overlooked, thought of mostly as a background flavor or a kid's snack. I love the flavor of celery, and I love chopping it... it's so satisfying! Anyone? I decided to go meatless for mine, though I do plan on trying Fuchsia's recipe soon. This was quick and pleasantly spicy, the celery adding crunch and it's distinct flavor.

Szechuan Celery Tofu Stir-fry

-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 Tablespoon whole Section peppercorns
-1 block extra firm tofu weighted and drained on paper towels, cut into 2-inch sticks
-2 Thai red chiles, sliced thin
-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
-4 stalks celery cut into 2-inch sticks
-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a large skillet heat the oil and peppercorns over medium heat, let them sizzle for about 1-2 minutes until they are very fragrant, but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppercorns and discard, leaving the flavored oil. Add the tofu to the hot oil and cook on high heat, tossing (gently) often, until golden on all sides. Add the garlic and chile peppers, toss to combine and let sizzle about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, crushed red pepper and sesame oil together. Add the mixture and the celery to the pan. Cook, gently stirring or tossing often, for 3-5 minutes until the celery is just soft and everything is hot and well-Incorporated. Serve hot over rice. Serves 2 as a full meal.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

tortellini casserole with acorn squash

I made this on election night to calm my nerves. Turns out I would need comfort food more than I thought :(
What a terrible time in American history. I am heartbroken for my country. And yes, I plan to take action to try and make this place better for people. I wish I could bake everyone a casserole. Take care of yourselves, friends.

Tortellini Casserole with Acorn Squash & Spinach

-4 strips bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 medium yellow onion, chopped
-6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
-1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into bite-sized cubes
-2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1 bag of fresh baby spinach, about 4 cups
-3 Tablespoons flour
-2 cups milk
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup for topping
-1 19 oz. pkg. frozen cheese tortellini, boiled according to directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF. in a large dutch oven or pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel, leaving 3 Tablespoons of the grease in the pot. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink on all sides. Add the squash, onion and 1/2 of the garlic. Cook until the squash is just soft. Add the tomatoes, spinach and rest of the garlic and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir, cooking for a couple minutes. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Let boil 2 minutes until thickened, to a pot-pie like consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses. Gently stir in the tortellini so everything is combined. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes until the cheese on top is browned.

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Friday, November 04, 2016

coconut peanut shrimp vegetable soup

Sometimes you have a bucket of shrimp heads in your freezer, amitrite? Well, I did for months, and it was finally time to do something with them. Stock of course, but then what to make with this flavorful stock? A flavorful soup... one of my favorite kinds of soups... the kind with coconut milk and peanut butter in it! I've posted a couple Thai peanut soups on the blog. This one is packed with vegetables, making it nutritious and hearty for the cooler weather. It warms you in all the ways... the heat from the chiles, the hot, creamy broth, the cheerful bright colors. 

Shrimp heads becoming delicious stock.

Coconut Peanut Shrimp & Vegetable Soup

-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 medium onions, roughly diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced, divided in half
-1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated fine, divided in half
-3 stalks lemongrass, outer 3 layers removed, minced
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/2 teaspoon white pepper
-6 red Thai chiles, seeded and minced (leave some seeds if you want more heat)
-8 cups shrimp stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
-1 can coconut milk
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 cooked chicken breast, roughly chopped
-6 small white potatoes, cubed
-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
-1 Red bell pepper, cut into strips
-8 oz. oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
-1 large bunch water spinach, lower stems removed, chopped into 20inch strips
-handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
-1/2 lb. peeled & deveined shrimp

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the onions in the oil until translucent. Add half the garlic, half the ginger and the lemongrass and cook until everything is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the curry powder, white pepper and chiles and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp stock and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and peanut butter and bring back to a simmer, stirring well to incorporate. Add the chicken, potatoes and carrots and cook for 7-8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper and cook another 7-10 minutes. Add the water spinach and cilantro and cook until wilted (it will shrink quite a bit, like regular spinach). Add the shrimp, stir in and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with cilantro and lemon or lime wedges.

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