beautiful bones with golden tofu red curry

the mets won!

susan over at food blogga is hosting a special event to honor osteoporosis month and raise awareness of this disease. there is a long list of potential causes of osteoporosis she reprints on her blog. one was asthma, although i wonder if this is more about the medications used to control asthma, rather than the difficulty in breathing itself. for instance, oral steriods such as advair can reduce normal calcium consumption and bone formation.

unfortunately every time my physician asks if i'm taking calcium supplements (because i do have asthma and take advair) i sheepishly say no as if i think it won't affect me.
but honestly, i know better. so i was happy to join in this event, and even happier that non-animal sources of calcium were welcome (don't even get me started on the media's industry paid misplaced emphasis on cow milk!)

so here is my humble entry ... the incredible edible amazing tofu!

firm tofu

there are so many different ways of cooking (or not) and serving tofu, but this is one of my favorites, even if it isn't the most healthiest of options. we used this in a simple thai red curry with onions, carrots, scallions, cilantro, red peppers, and farmer's market snap peas that were the freshest things this side of perfect.

golden tofu

farmer's market snap peas

golden tofu: serves 2 - 4 (more like 2 for tofu lovers like moi)
adapted from deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone (1997, p. 598)

1 1lb package firm style tofu, cut into 1" cubes
2 tb peanut oil (or other high heat oil)
salt + pepper

1. drain then blot the tofu with paper towels. cut into 1" cubes and lightly salt and pepper.

2. heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over fairly high heat. add tofu and fry until golden. it takes several minutes to color, so let it cook undisturbed while you do something else, then come back and turn the pieces.

3. drain briefly on paper towels and serve up in endless ways!

golden tofu red curry


the daring baker that wasn't ... but here are some peanut butter chocolate cookies instead :)

there's no excuse her ladies and gents. it just didn't get done. along with the human rights paper that i am totally dragging my arse on.

but that doesn't mean it won't get done! i HAVE to finish my paper this weekend and i WILL make that opera cake!

got. to. get. it. together. ugh.

but in the meantime, please go check out hundreds of other more worthy daring bakers than i and their beautiful opera cakes of all shapes and flavors. and for a little sweet to tide you over, here are some chunky cookies i made awhile ago. super easy, super delish!

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies


chunky peanut, chocolate, and cinnamon cookies: makes 5 dozen
from martha's website (click here)

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cups roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350F. whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

2. put butter and peanut butter in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment and mix on medium until combined, about 2 minutes. add sugars and mix another 2 minutes. mix in eggs. gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined. fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and vanilla. refrigerate until slightly firm, 15 minutes.

3. roll dough into 1 inch balls. space about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. flatten slightly (i didn't, wanted them more humped). bake until just golden, 13 minutes. transfer to wire rack to cool.

martha said to serve these with ice cream ... and who was i to ignore her instructions! ;)

with ice cream


twd: brioche overload with snails and french toast


for this week's tuesdays with dorie, madam chow of madam chow's kitchen choose dorie's ooey gooey sticky pecan buns. everyone loves sticky pecan buns ... except for the mimis. even the gorgeous gooey photo in dorie's book didn't appeal to us.

but brioche ... now that is something even the village idiot would love! i've never made brioche before, so i was up to the challenge. also, dorie's brioche method is slightly different than others i have read, from the way the butter is added to the way it is rolled for the loaf pan. so let's give it a whirl and see what happens!

and a whirrled it went, my poor KA was huffing and puffing and still those butter chunks were just whirrling around the side of my dough instead of getting properly incorporated. no way i could finish this dough on LOW speed as dorie instructs. so a little faster, a little more huffing and puffing, and finally it came together.

brioche raisin apricot snails

for my alternative to sticky buns, i chose a previous TWD selection of brioche raisin snails. yumm. i didn't quite have enough raisins on hand, but i always have a bunch of dried apricots around, so i chopped those up too. i also used armagnac instead of rum for a more traditional flambé. i also doubled the sugar filling because i like it like that.

before rising

but oops, i used a pastry cutter to slice my snails and they ended up a wee bit squished. and oops, i don't know what happened but they got really really brown (burnt?) and i cooked them for probably 10 minutes less than indicated. i have an oven thermometer, so i know the temp was right (in fact, it was a little low in the beginning) so i have no idea what happened. but it wasn't anything a little drizzled sugary icing couldn't fix!

a little toasty
a little toasty

meets a little icing
a little icing

and what about the rest of the brioche dough? we went for the obvious. some classic brioche french toast the next morning. to make myself feel better for all that buttery goodness i tried to pretend i wasn't eating i went out and played two hours of tennis afterwards. somehow it all balances out, riiight? ;)


brioche french toast

to get your goo on with hundreds of sticky pecan buns, please check out the rest of tuesdays with dorie!

brioche raisin snails
adapted from dorie's baking handbook (p. 56)

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
a pour of armagnac or other brandy
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
your favorite brioche recipe
your favorite pastry cream recipe
your usual sugar icing recipe

1. line one or two baking sheets with parchment. mix sugar and cinnamon (you probably won't use the full doubled amount, so reduce if you want).

2. put raisins and apricots in small pan, cover with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes until they are plumped. drain raisins/apricots and return to pan, stirring, and warming them over low heat. pour a bit of armagnac on the mix, and ignite with long match or lighter. if your kitchen hasn't burned down (haha, just kidding, really flamb
éing is easier than you think) set aside.

3. on well floured surface, roll dough into rectangle 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with short end towards you - oops!! i don't think i did this either! spread pastry cream across dough, leaving 1 inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. scatter raisins/apricots and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.

4. starting with side nearest, roll dough into cylinder. with chef's knife, using sawing motion, trim just a bit of the ends if not even. then cut the log into rounds 1 inch thick. put snails on lined baking sheet, leaving some space between each. cover with wax paper and let double in volume, about 1-2 hours.

4. meanwhile preheat oven to 375F. bake snails for about 25 minutes or until puffed and richly brown (or really dark brown in my case, mwahaha!) transfer snails to cooling rack and then drizzle with the good sugary stuff.




grilled pork tenderloin with glaze and mojo

grilled pork tenderloin with glaze and mojo

if you were lucky to have nice weather (which we finally were!), like you, the mimis took full advantage and grilled every night this long holiday weekend. every time i think i want to move back to manhattan to be closer to school, a perfect early summer evening arrives and my brooklyn garden is like an oasis. i could never give this up, voluntarily.

so what did the mimis have? one night was boca burger night, but that's not very photogenic, huh? so no photos of that, but tasty as always. the first night we started with fresh grilled clams. if you have not tried this method of clamming, please do! very easy, and super delish.

on the fire

grilled clams

we followed that with beef kabobs with cubano peppers and onions. the first rule of kabobs is keep it simple, don't go adding on a zillion different vegetables. i have learned that it never works right! the zucchinis never cook entirely and the tomatoes always fall off. and the second rule is to use the best meat. these morsels came from arcadian farms. wow, if there was ever proof that happy cows make delish meat, these kabobs were it!

beef kabobs

foiled potatoes

for sides we keep to our motto of simple is almost always best. our go-to sides include small red potatoes grilled in an aluminum foil pouch, and whatever great green vegetables are around. for late spring, this means asparagus and some snap peas. everything is tossed with a little bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. once my herbs are a bit bigger, fresh thyme and chives are added too. mr. mimi likes a sprinkle of paprika on the potatoes.

potatoes and vegetables

but the crown jewel of the weekend grilling bonanza was what we just enjoyed tonight.

back when the food network was actually about food (i loooved the two hot tamales!) the mimis weren't terribly fond of the popular bobby flay. it wasn't that we thought he was a bad chef, but his show was horribly lame with that token woman and his schtick was just unbearable to watch. but i was cruising around epicurious to find some special grilling recipe, and came across one of his menus. lame show or not, i assume bobby knows a thing or two about grilling.

grill marks

i promise you, if you try this recipe you will not be disappointed!! mojo is a classic cuban sauce. combined with the glaze, this dish has a sweet and spicy kick that is gorgeous. a clean spiciness, but with half a habanero chile, it was definitely spicy. if you don't like spicy at all, then this isn't for you. if you like less spicy, just reduce the amount of chile. but don't skimp on any of the other ingredients or components, it really just works perfectly together.

grilled pork tenderloin

grilled pork tenderloin with glaze and mojo: serves 6
adapted from bobby flay on epicurious (click here)

for glaze:
1 cup guava jelly (found in latin markets) or apricot jam (we used the jam)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup orange juice
salt + pepper

for mojo:
2 tb mild vegetable oil, such as canola
1 small red onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
3 cups orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 habanero chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 tb chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds (we used about 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
salt + pepper

for pork:
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 pounds each
2 tb vegetable oil, such as canola

1. make glaze: whisk ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. make mojo: heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes (do not brown). add habanero and cook for about 1 minute. add orange juice and lime juice and bring to boil. cook until reduced by half. whisk in cilantro and cumin and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. make pork: prepare hot grill. brush pork with oil and season with salt and pepper. grill, brushing each side often with glaze, until just cooked through (reaching 150F at the thickest portion). be careful not to overcook. remove pork from grill, brush with remaining glaze if desired, and let rest for 10 minutes. cut into slices and drizzle with mojo.


best bbq this season


shf: citrus with key lime "cannoli"

sugar high friday was created by jennifer of the domestic goddess. this month is hosted by tartelette and of course she just had to pick citrus ... during my most busiest month of school!! this is the last week to get anything done and i have nothing to show for it yet. time to get the juices flowing, so to speak :)

i bake a lot of chocolate things because that is what is usually requested. but personally i love citrus. i had some mascarpone leftover from these lovely cookies. i searched high and low for a recipe that combined it with some citrus flavor and finally found a recipe from gourmet on epicurious. it was called key lime mascarpone "cannoli" and i should've known better with those rabbit ears. why mess with the great thing that is the cannoli?? but SHF was less than a week away so i plowed ahead.

key lime "cannoli"

and folks, let the rabbit ears be a lesson to you all ... don't be fooled!! i'm still including this recipe in the link because the flavor was there and it was definitely yummy. and maybe somebody more industrious and intelligent than i can figure out how to tweak the method to make this work. the shells became too greasy (and sticky when dry) and too delicate. the filling never really firmed up, although i think that was due to my over zealous mixing.

sugar high friday

but i can't have these almost there but not quite "cannolis" be my only citrus treat for SHF. i'm hoping to squeeze in one more thing by saturday ...

and un-related, but does anyone know how to get rid of highlights in photoshop (see bad photo below)?? or even better yet, how to adjust my camera/light set-up to avoid this problem?

too many highlights


twd: traditional madeleines ... that drove me mad!

okay, wanna know the real reason i didn't get posted for tuesdays with dorie early like i usually do?

because me and my maddie pan had a fight, and the darn pan won.

i was super excited when tara from smells like home chose madeleines for this week's tuesday with dorie. i love madeleines and made them not too long ago with julia's modified génoise batter. so i was keen to try out a different recipe and see which one i preferred.

dorie's pan from tonight

well, dear dorie you are still not my favorite. not only was i humpless but as you can also see i had a disaster with getting them out of the pan. this is actually what happened last night (monday) and i thought i'd give it another go tonight with even more butter in the pan (tuesday). but the result was the same. wahhhh :(

julia's pan from last month

and so neither dorie (great taste, but stuck in pan) or julia (so-so taste but no sticking problem) won me over. i will confess though, i used the paddle attachment instead of the whip. do you think that was the reason why it stuck? or maybe it's time to let a gentleman into the ring?


ncr: farmer's market salad with spiced goat cheese rounds

spiced goat cheese rounds

even though i am occasionally eating meat again, i feel like my heart and soul will always be vegetarian (shh, don't tell my friends i think i may return to vegetarianism sooner than later). i've wanted to join in the no croutons required event since it first started but kept missing it. and now i'm only one day away from the deadline, but i was determined to come up with something!!

no croutons required

this month, holler from tinned tomatoes is hosting a cheese salad theme for ncr. yumm, almost everything tastes better with cheese! one of my favorite starters at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants is a simple bistro salad with warm goat cheese. i usually don't follow recipes for salads because they are so easy to compose with almost any ingredient, but i searched around epicurious and found something similar to that favorite, but with a seasoned twist.

i adapted the recipe to what we had on hand and my preference for roasted potatoes. the goat cheese rounds were excellent. i'd love to try this again later in the season with different produce. if you try this salad, i'm sure you won't be disappointed! the recipe reads long, but it is really quite simple and easy to compose. if you want something quicker, you can steam the potatoes instead.

salad with spiced goat cheese rounds

farmer's market salad with spiced goat cheese rounds: serves 2
adapted from bon appétit (august 2007)

for goat cheese rounds:
1 tb sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
salt + pepper
4 oz log plain goat cheese, cut into slices

1 tb red wine vinegar
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 1/2 tb olive oil
salt + pepper

1/2 lb baby new potatoes
1/2 lb green beans
4 oz mixed salad greens
4 roma tomatoes, sliced (because we're out of season, would have preferred grape)
4 radishes, thinly sliced
handful baby carrots
handful olives
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. preheat oven to 375F. quarter the potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. place on baking sheet and roast until crisp and tender, about 1 hour.

2. meanwhile, make goat cheese rounds. mix all spices in bowl and dip cut sides of goat cheese into spice mixture. chill until ready to serve, but bring back to room temperature.

3. make the vinaigrette. whisk first four ingredients in small bowl, gradually whisk in olive oil. season with salt and pepper.

4. when potatoes are almost done, steam green beans until bright green and rinse under cold water. slice radishes and carrots if necessary. place greens in bowl, add green beans, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, olives, and potatoes. spoon vinaigrette on top and then surround with goat cheese rounds.



a culinary trip to greece


i had never heard of donna hay until i started blogging. a lovely woman from down under, she has legions of fans all over the world. when i was at the bookstore a couple of weeks ago i chanced upon her summer magazine issue. it immediately caught my eye with a gorgeous cover photo, and even more drool worthy photos on the inside. and it wasn't full of every other page of tacky advertisements like some other american magazines that shall remain un-named (but you know what i'm talking about!)

and when i say drool worthy photos, i mean that without an ounce of exaggeration. her clean style, simple presentation, white backgrounds really appeal to me. food is the star here.

even in the stylized pieces, the photos are still so clean but totally appetizing. in this issue she had an article titled "greek odyssey" awash with the most delish looking food and beautiful greek blue backdrops. i knew i had to make something from this.

and what better time than on a unseasonably freezing rainy cold may evening? sure, i could have made a chunky soup or hearty pasta to match the weather. but these tasty greek dishes instantly transported us to dreams of a sunnier, happier place.

spinach and feta

ready for baking

spinach and feta pies: makes 6
from donna hay magazine issue 37

1 bunch spinach (550 g), trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1 tb grated lemon rind
200 g feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, lightly beaten
9 sheet filo pastry
80 g butter, melted

1. preheat oven to 390F. combine spinach, mint, lemon, feta, eggs, and pepper in bowl and mix well. set aside.

2. layer 3 sheets of filo, brushing between each layer with the melted butter. cut into 2 x 20 cm rounds. press pastry into 2 x 11 cm round greased pie tins. fill pastry cases with spinach mixture and fold edges to partially enclose. brush tops with butter.

3. bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden. (we only had 2 cake tins and made 2 free form pies. the smaller, tighter tinned ones cooked and tasted better).

flaky pies

spinach and feta pies

pan-roasted chicken with almond and mint: serves 2 (we used the full amount of almond/mint mixture and had a little leftover)
adapted from donna hay issue 37

1 lb chicken breast
salt + pepper and other seasonings (for chicken)
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice plus an extra squeeze or two
1/2 cup olive oil

1. preheat oven to 400F. season chicken breasts. heat olive in oil in oven proof skillet on high, place smooth side down. once sizzling, turn down heat to medium. slow cook until meat can pull away from pan. the key to pan roasting is don't keep touching the meat, otherwise it will stick. patience is key. you need to just let it sizzle away until it's ready to be turned.

2. flip each chicken breast and put pan in oven to cook to internal 160F, making sure to flip again half way through.

3. meanwhile, place almonds, mint, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in bowl and stir well to combine. spoon mixture over the chicken. it will seem oily, but the flavor is wonderful, and the oil is left behind.

sorry for the bad highlights in this photo, i just received my new flash and i'm still learning how to use it!

chicken with almond and mint


brownie cookies with ice cream

who can resist a blog post with a title like that??!

flying hearts

but really, i can't take the credit. even though i have never met deb of smitten kitchen, she has single handedly absolutely positively brought back one of my best childhood memories. no kidding.

and i can't even remember the details! but i do remember loving carvel's flying saucers. actually, weren't their commercials so cute with fudgie the whale and cookie puss? and that green shamrock guy? they'd float around and mr. carvel would narrate with that funny voice. ahhh ... but i digress.

those flying saucers. they came in packs of 6 in that long plastic box. i remember looking into the cooler, past all the fancy new things with nuts or sprinkles. all i wanted was the plain jane flying saucer.


and now i think i have them. these brownie roll-out cookies are certainly good enough on their own. but try it with some ice cream. i promise you'll be swooning.

i halved the recipe, but accidentally mis-calculated the amount of cocoa powder and ended up putting in nearly the full amount. i used dutch process so i wasn't too worried, and all was well, they just came out dark and chocolatey. not too bad a result for a so-called "mistake" :)



brownie roll-out cookies
from smitten kitchen (click here)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup dutch process cocoa

1. preheat oven to 350F. whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in bowl and set aside. mix butter, sugar eggs, vanilla, and cocoa in mixer. gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

2. on floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4" thick. cut into desired shapes. bake on parchment lined sheet for 8-11 minutes, until edges are firm and centers are slightly soft and puffed.

3. transfer to wire rack to cool. scoop a little vanilla ice cream on a cookie, and top with another cookie. swoon away to flying saucer heaven!



martha mondays: round-up and next event

this round-up for martha mondays is all savory (well, except for me, of course!) the challenge this time was to choose a recipe from one of her magazines - living or everyday food.

i was happy to welcome becke from columbus foodie who created a very delish thai chicken and noodle salad. kathy from just the right size also joined us with a hearty farro and porcino risotto. thanks to both for trying out these great recipes!

and while of course i'd love for others to participate, as long as one other person joins me, i'm still happy to continue planning for martha mondays :)

so for the next event we're going all savory. it's funny, you'd think i bake so much because i love sweets. but that is so far from the truth. i'm a salty girl through and through! i'd absolutely positively rather have a side of french fries over a plate of dessert any day!

martha's website has a nice "best quick and easy recipes" feature online. let's see how best, quick, and easy they really are! there are chicken, pasta, and other meat options so plenty to choose from depending on your mood.

to see the recipes, click here.

the no-rules rules of martha mondays (i just added more, haha! - AND the rules just changed!!):

1. choose a recipe from the link above. there are 20 different ideas so surely you'll find one you like! if you really absolutely hate all those options, then you can still join us with some other martha recipe, but it better be a good one!

2. you don't have to tell me in advance, so don't worry if someone might do the same dish you're going to do. that's also part of the fun! you are more than welcome to tweak a recipe, or change the presentation. as long as basically the recipe remains in the same spirit and method. part of this event is to find out how good (or not!) martha's recipes really are!

3. the rule change: post your martha recipe anytime between now and saturday may 31 at midnight my time (new york) and include a link back to me in your post. i will do the round-up on that monday, june 2.

2. email me at marthamondays-at-gmail-dot-com with a link to your post. also include a photo if you have one.


twd: florida lime pie

lime time

for this week's tuesdays with dorie, dianne of dianne's dishes choose the lovely dorie variation on the classic key lime pie. after all the more rich peanut butter tortes out there last week, i was really looking forward to everyone's light, refreshing lime pies.


the variation here is the coconut cream layer on the bottom, plus the coconut meringue. i like coconut, but i'm not a fan, i really wouldn't go out of my way for it. so i chose to only do the cream layer. and because i'm even less of a fan of meringue, i also chose to do a simple whipped cream for garnish (although i have to admit i walked away while the lovely KA was whipping, and i came back to almost butter, woops!) i also added a little bit of zest to the filling because i am a firm believer that limey things should be puckery tart!



even though graham cracker crusts are easy enough to make, dorie says that she usually just buys a store crust. well, if it's good enough for dorie, it's darn good enough for moi! especially when i find myself at 22:30 on monday night just starting to make this thing! to make myself feel a little better, i opted for an organic crust. it was 9" but maybe a little shallow because with the cream layer and lime filling, it went right up to the top.

coconut cream layer
coconut cream

i wasn't terribly fond of the coconut cream layer, but mr. mimi liked this pie lot. then again, you'd be hard put to find a sweet treat that mr. mimi doesn't like! just kiddin' hunny!! but i prefer the full tartness of a classic key lime pie. if i were to make this one over again, i probably would at least toast the coconut first.

i really wanted to make candied lime slices and rim around the crust, but again, the 22:30 on a monday night kind of made that a no-go. i hope someone else did, because i'd love to see how it looks! to catch up with all the other TWD bakers, check out here.

dorie's florida lime pie

florida lime pie: serves 8
adapted from dorie's baking (2006, p. 340)

1 9" graham cracker crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1 tb of fresh lime zest

1. preheat oven to 350F. put pie plate on baking sheet lined with parchment.

2. on medium low, heat the cream and coconut in small saucepan. bring to boil, stir almost constantly. continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and mixture is slightly thickened. set aside.

3. with mixer and paddle attachment, beat egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. reduce to low and beat in condensed milk. add half of the lime juice and mix. add the remaining juice and zest and mix until well incorporated.

4. spread coconut cream layer in bottom of pie pan. pour lime filling on top.

5. bake pie for 14-16 minutes (should look set but still a little quivery; this time is longer because i didn't use the meringue). transfer to cooling rack, let cool completely, and then refrigerate until cold or next day. serve with dollop of fresh cream!


whipped cream

a lovely slice