Thursday, June 24, 2010

Asian flavor Morningstar burgers

This is going to be a slow week for SupperForTwo. Rachel and I have social engagements for every single night this week except tonight (I know, I know, we're so popular). And tonight, we were way too tired to cook anything real so we settled on grilled cheese for Rachel and Morningstar Asian Veggie Patties for me.

Sadly, I can't really recommend these patties. They taste strongly of ginger, carrots, and zucchini. Unlike Morningstar's regular veggie burgers, these leave out the meaty soy protein and instead have the kind of filler you see in the "vegetable patty" variety of veggie burger, or the kind of food yeshivot in Israel serve as the tzamchani option.

They don't deserve a picture, even if I'd remembered to take one. Stay tuned for a return to the usual culinary standards next week...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I've finally uploaded all the pictures we've been taking. Now you go back and look at all the old posts to see their pictures!

Kind of like how in that one Waldo book at the end you needed to go back to each page and find something you weren't looking for before.

Stir fry celery and tofu

Tonight was tofu part deux.

This time, I sliced the block of tofu ahead of time (last night), and lay the slices on some paper towels on top of a plate. I then put more paper towels on top of the slices, then another plate, then weighed the whole thing down with my CIS.

Today, I sliced the slices into noodle-like strips, and marinaded them in soy sauce, rice vinegar, some leftover pineapple juice, sugar, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

To make the stir fry, I sauteed some crushed garlic in vegetable oil, then added celery sliced into mini sticks. I poured over whatever marinade was not absorbed into the tofu. I let that cook until the celery started browning on the bottom, at which point I added in the tofu. I left it cook without moving it for a while. The tofu would start to brown, I'd shake the pan up, and let it sit again. I repeated this a bunch of times until the tofu was mostly brown.

We ate it with white rice.
It was better than the last tofu we ate (more flavor), but I used a little too much vinegar in the seasonings so it was too sour. But the celery was really good, and the rice came out well. But then again, it's rice. Not so complicated.

Spinach spaghetti

This was a dish made from leftovers - leftover ricotta cheese and leftover sour cream.

Saute a whole lot of spinach (it cooks way down, like, into nothing, so use a whole bag) with onions, olive oil, salt and pepper. When cooked down, add some ricotta cheese and some sour cream. Maybe a tiny bit of water, I don't even remember.

Mix it all together, and blend it with a hand blender until it's pale green. Cook up some spaghetti, drain it and right away toss it with the green sauce.

Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Crispy breaded tofu, beans and rice

Last week we decided to make tofu, but we decided that we wanted to make it crispy. Now, although this may seem simple it is in fact rather difficult, as many on the internet can confirm. To get tofu crispy you have to dry it by squeezing out all the water, or heating it. Some people freeze the tofu and then thaw it, which also gets rid of some water while also imparting a meat-like consistency to the tofu.

Or, you could cheat, and coat the tofu in bread crumbs and deep fry it. That's what we did. Dip the tofu in flour, coat in egg, then dip in some bread crumbs with salt. Fry in oil. Enjoy.

On the side we had white rice and black beans, cooked with some onions and garlic. Note: apparently, some canned beans come with a lot of salt in the liquid. So our beans were really salty because I wasn't counting on that. So either don't add salt, or drain yo' beans.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


There are certain foods that I've eaten for years, thought they were ok, but knew that they could be better somehow. Tacos are the perfect example of such a food.

Tacos used to mean those hard, crunchy corn shells, filled until overflowing with some sort of fake meat, beans, lettuce, cheese, tomato, avocado, or some combination thereof. Those shells were good (they were essentially over sized corn chips), but the taco itself usually fell apart quickly. I would then have to eat the remaining salad of the above ingredients which, while still tasting good, did not feel like eating a taco should.

Then I learned that real tacos use soft tortillas, so that the filling doesn't fall out. Also, they usually taste better than those hard shells, which are often kind of stale-tasting. You can go with either corn or flour here. We tried corn once and it gave Rachel a stomach ache so we don't use them. Plus, we really like the flour ones, even though most recipes you'll read call for corn.

For the filling, we fried Morningstar crumbles with onions and some green pepper. To prepare the tortillas, I filled the bottom of a frying pan with vegetable oil, and sort of deep fried the tortillas really quickly, folding it over as it developed a crust. Each one was only in the oil for about 30 seconds tops.

The final tacos consisted of the tortilla, filling, chopped tomatoes, avocado, shredded iceberg lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce.

There's nothing like biting into a slightly crispy, slightly chewy tortilla filled with savory, meaty, sweet, cheesy, rich, crispy filling. Yum.

We also had mojito lemonade, leftover from Shabbos. To make it, make lemonade from a mix, pour in some rum, and put in a bunch of fre
sh mint leaves. We left ours in the fridge overnight, to let the alcohol extract all the minty goodness, and to allow the whole thing to chill, so that no ice would be necessary. It tasted great, but rum can do a number on you.

Portobello pizzas

This week, one of the dinners Rachel picked out was from one of our Suzie Fishbein cookbooks. These cookbooks have really pretty pictures, and are good for brainstorming. Some people claim the recipes don't always work, but I say that's subjective and depends on how you define work.

What is not subjective, though, is Suzie's copyright section on the inside cover, which contains some particularly strong language about reproducing the recipes, even if not for profit. Judging by the picture of Suzie I found on the internet, she doesn't seem like the sort of woman who would take me to court over a blog posting, but I'll try to keep things extra vague to keep Rachel happy.

So here goes: roast portobello mushrooms with onions and cheese on top. It doesn't really matter what kind of cheese you use. It doesn't really matter if you choose to add sauce or whatever. It doesn't even really matter how you cook it. It's just a portobello mushroom with toppings. Go wild!

Since portobellos are delicious, so was this dish. But they are also very watery, as was this dish. All of this can be confirmed by reading the reviews of various internet recipes for portobello pizza.

We also sliced two yams really thin (side note: information on the internet related to the difference between yams and sweet potatoes is very confusing), and baked them with olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and salt. The second batch burned a little, but they were crispy and good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Banana bread and popcorn

Two short items:

Banana bread - I followed this recipe, using apple sauce instead of butter, and using no nuts but otherwise everything was the same. It was really moist, and we devoured it, especially since we've been depriving ourselves of carbs.

Popcorn - for a cheap, quick, and healthy way to make popcorn, measure out 1/4 or 1/3 a cup of kernels (the kind you buy in the plastic jar) into a brown paper bag. Fold the opening tightly shut (don't fold all the way down the bag.. you get the idea), and microwave on the popcorn setting. I sprayed mine with a little bit of spray oil (after the microwave; it went in totally dry) before adding salt, so that the salt would stick. Unclear if it made a difference; you could probably get away with just salt and no oil.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garlic Chicken

You have to try this garlic chicken.

Here's the background: my dad likes to make "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic", a recipe he got from the Times. His uses a whole chicken with tons of garlic cloves (still unpeeled), olive oil and the "Scarborough Fair" mix (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme). He'll bake the chicken in a clay pot.

I decided to repeat this recipe, with a few modifications. First of all, since this chicken is baked long and slow, I decided to go with dark meat only (in my case, just thighs). See, I used to like white meat cooked long and slow until it was so soft that it fell off the bone. Recently, though, my tastes have changed. I now think, as do many others, that white meat cooked for too long is dry. So if I'm going to cook it, I'll only cook it until it's just done and still juicy. In theory, I could still cook a whole chicken in pieces using a long-and-slow recipe, but take out the breasts before taking out the dark meat. But a) this is annoying and b) breasts, even when the bone is still in, are at least twice as expensive as dark meat, so I generally avoid them.

Second of all, I saw that most of the garlic chicken recipes online were calling for peeled garlic. I was concerned, because what I like about my dad's unpeeled garlic version is that the garlic, when roasted for a long time, pops out of the peel as a creamy, garlicky spread. I wasn't sure if unpeeled cloves would roast the same way, or if they would dry out. But I decided to peel them and see what happened.

Third of all, I added chopped onions and chopped white potatoes to the bottom of the pan. We had them lying around, and we often add onions and potatoes to chicken. It always comes out well and I had no doubt that it would work.

Lastly, I didn't have parsley, sage, or rosemary; only thyme was on my side. I picked up an 80 cent parsley baggie at shoprite (yes, I know I live in Elizabeth, but I can assure you it WAS parsley), but didn't feel like shelling out another $5 for sage and rosemary. I don't use them very often. Instead, I used dried basil and dried dill, which I had anyway. In this case, I figured the particular herbs didn't matter. I was using dry, rather than fresh, and I was just trying to give the dish a general "herby" flavor. As long as I had some kind of herb in there, I knew it would do the trick. (This rule would not work if your dish had a distinct herb flavor. For example, if you are making fresh basil pesto, you can't use anything else. And if you want a distinctly dill flavor in a soup or tzatziki, you need dill. You get the idea).

So here's the final recipe: chopped onion and white potatoes in a Pyrex; add like 2 whole heads of peeled garlic cloves (plus the root part was snipped off) which have been lightly fried in about 1/4 cup of olive oil (pour the oil in too); rub chicken thighs with a little olive oil; sprinkle on your dry herbs; place them on top of the veggies; splash some white wine over each thigh and let it run down to the bottom. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours, or until you like it.

We've made some good chicken in our day, but this was really good. The chicken was moist and fall off the bone, the skin beautifully crisp and flavorful. The potatoes and onions had a ton of flavor, and were addictive. The garlic cloves were just as creamy as I'd hoped, perfect for spreading on bread. Major winner.

The rest of our Shabbat recipes were repeats from before - crispy broccoli, stir fried zucchini, and deli sandwiches for lunch.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stir fry with rice

Tonight we made a great stir fry. First, I prepared the following:
- 1 thinly sliced onion
- 3 pressed cloves of garlic, mixed with garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne and coriander
- mushrooms cut into small chunks
- 1 diced red pepper
- 1 package of tofu, cubed, mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt and garlic powder

To make the stir fry, I first cooked the onions over high heat, in vegetable oil, for about a minute. Then I added the garlic, and cooked for another 30 seconds. Then, I added the pepper and then the tofu. I added the mushrooms last. To the whole thing I added some more soy sauce, some more rice vinegar and a little bit of sugar.

We had it with rice. Maybe not the most sophisticated stir fry I've ever had, but it had a lot of flavor - salt, sweet, savory, spicy.


Last night we had salad for dinner. Nothin' special, pretty much the same salad we had last week, the one with veggie burgers.

But this time Rachel made croutons. She cut old challah into cubes, gave them a quick spritz with vegetable oil and tossed them in salt, pepper and garlic. Then, she baked them at 275 for about 15 minutes.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spanish risotto and zucchini

I kind of made up Spanish risotto. To make regular risotto, you saute a chopped onion in butter, then add dry risotto rice, then add water or stock a little bit at a time, letting the rice absorb the stock bit by bit, until all your stock is used up and your rice is super creamy. For more details, consult the Internet.

So to make Spanish risotto I chopped an onion as well as a green pepper. I meant to use the red pepper we bought but I spaced out and used the green pepper instead. Spacing out is a common trait among superior chefs.

Anyway, I then added the rice as usual, along with some garlic, pepper, paprika and oregano. Instead of using stock, though, I used 3 cups of water mixed with a 15 oz can of tomato sauce. At the end I threw in a couple shakes of vinegar, and seasoned the rice to my liking. End result - creamy rice with a kick of tomato and pepper. And enough for lunch the next day, too.

To make zucchini, I just sliced 2 zucchinis into rounds and sauteed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep 'em moving or else they'll stick to the pan. They were savory. No leftovers from these babies.


For Memorial Day, we had burgers for dinner. First, though, we made fried plantain because we've always wanted to try it. And we live in Elizabeth, NJ, whose grocery stores stock ample supplies of both green and yellow plantains, not to mention dozens of other Hispanic ingredients (yucca and various other roots, dried fish, something called Mojo sauce...).

We sliced and deep fried a yellow plantain, and sprinkled salt on top. It was ok. The taste was kind of bland, with a hint of banana. I thought plantains weren't supposed to taste like banana even though they look like bananas, but this one did. We tried dipping them in hot sauce, but that didn't do much. Apparently we got the sweet kind, so maybe next time we'll try the green kind, or something.

On to the burgers. I finely diced an onion and mixed it into 20 oz of ground beef (80% lean) with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. I would have preferred to buy chuck steaks and ground the meat myself but please, people, we're on a budget, ok?

I weighed out the burgers into four 5 oz patties (I'm not OCD, I just have a kitchen scale and love using it). Then I cooked them on a hot CIS for a couple minutes on each side. I tried testing the internal temp with my probe thermometer, but it was only registering about 120, and I was looking for 150-160. But looking at my burgers I thought that they were close to done, and I knew if I left them on for much longer they would be dry and burnt. So I took them off and we ate them. They weren't so pink inside but that might have been because of the seasoning. We're still not sure if they were cooked all the way, but we're here still so I guess it turned out ok.

Next time, I will make them wider and thinner. Oh, also - we made corn on the cob. Apparently sweet corn is in season, somewhere. I thought corn season wasn't till July/August but I guess not. And at our Shoprite, each ear is 17 cents. Doesn't get better than that.