22 July 2010

as i age, like a fine wine or delectable cheese, i get better. and part of that getting "better" is that i love food. hence the feeble attempt at a food metaphor.

amongst other, more pressing hobbies and passions is the innate Foodie deep within. i scan food blogs, food network, chow and keep tabs on various food happenings around my area. my heaven is a farmer's market filled with the seductive sounds of bluegrass music, laughter and the undeniable crunch of all things delicious. had i the time, i would literally spend all day in the kitchen. if you've been to my house, you know my kitchen isn't exactly that of a gourmet chef. then again, a chef i am not. but a novice home cook, sauce inventor and recipe concocter i AM!

the most recent endeavor: vegetarianism. oddly enough, it's not me that prompted this somewhat radical change. for me, it wouldn't have been too radical. but for my husband, it is. i came home one night after he watched some documentary on the way meat is processed and that was it. since i'm not super excitable when it comes to meat, i happily obliged to trying out this new way. too bad i had just purchased our carnivorous stock the day before he told me this. ah well. meat for sale!

while this certainly presents some new challenges and adjustments, i welcome it all. i have been eating healthier, lighter and found that i have lost my often insatiable desire to eat all things sweet. don't get me wrong...i'll still eat chocolate cake with the best of 'em, but maybe only one piece...not two, or three.

as i mentioned above, i love doing food research. every empty plate is like a blank canvas longing to be filled with unique colors, textures and flavors. i want to know how i can fill it. i have found some new sites catering to us fledgling vegis and enjoy the poshness of it all. i love a challenge. creating tasty, healthy food without meat is a new challenge.

tonight's meal was a complete invention. i saw guy fieri making mashed cauliflower on his show, and it gave me an idea. i wanted the lusciousness of mashed potatoes sans the starchy carb-load. i love the linear structure of asparagus spears, paired with the fluffy goodness of the whipped cauliflower. BUT, i thought, i need protein. well, tofu it is...the 'ol standby. by marinating and searing it, i created a nice, rustic crust to compliment the green and white. and to bring a little more nuttiness and texture, i sprinkled the dish with chopped almonds.

the recipe as follows:

Ginger mashed cauliflower, with sesame glazed tofu and asparagus
Feeds about 3

1 bunch of asparagus, bottoms removed
2 cups of cubed tofu
2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. of ground ginger
2 oz. of milk (cream or half-and-half to make it richer, soy for non-dairy)
2 oz. of chicken or vegi stock
Your favorite teriyaki or Asian marinade (I made my own that I will try to remember here-see below)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by roasting your cauliflower florets. Spread them evenly on a cookie sheet and drizzle your O.O. on top. Add a bit of S & P. Toss to coat and place in 375 oven for about half an hour. Ovens vary so check to make sure they are fork tender. They should begin to get a nice brownish color on the tops.
While they are toastin' away, prep your vegis. After removing the woody ends of asparagus, marinate in teriyaki sauce for 15 minutes or so. Do the same with the tofu, but in a separate bowl.

My sauce recipe (the estimated version):

1 tsp. of minced, fresh ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
couple TBSP of rice vinegar
Combine, stir and taste. Adjust as needed. Should be sweet and salty, with a little Asian flare. Not syrupy.

So, get a good pan, preferably non-stick, HOT. When the pan is sizzling, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and immediately add the asparagus, being careful to let the marinade drip off before adding to pan. You may have to do this in batches as not to over crowd the pan. Cook for a few minutes until asparagus is just slightly tender. Al dente, I guess. To the tooth.
Using the same pan, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the tofu. Let them sit for a couple minutes to form a nice crust. If you remove to quickly, they will stick...Kind of like chicken.

About this time, your cauliflower should be ready. Let it cool for a few minutes. Grab yer blender. Add the milk, stock and ground ginger, along with half your cauliflower. Blend until smooth then add the rest of the cauliflower, adding salt and pepper to taste. They should have the same consistency as mashed potatoes, with a little bit of kick from the ginger!

To plate, i made a bed out of the mash, sprinkled some asparagus spears on top, tofu and chopped almonds. The almonds make this! Enjoy!

as you can see, i am a mixer. i am horrible at a couple things in life, but they're not that big of a deal: remembering street names, but recognizing everything by sight, and measuring ingredients, but creating yummy dishes by taste. so, here's to experimenting, getting lost, but always finding your way.

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