Sunday, October 3, 2010

When Anna came to dinner...

Dinner ingredients (the grapes are a snack)
Anna, Diana's daughter was coming to dinner. Anna is a vegetarian so tonight's menu had to include tofu as well as meat for the rest of us who choose to eat meat. Tonight's menu included Tofu and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Meatloaf Roll with Spinach and Feta Cheese, Green Bean Medley, Asian Avocado Salad,  and for dessert, Almond Lake with Mandarin Oranges (that's just rice pudding, people). 
Extra firm tofu cut into triangles in preparation for pressing out the water

Tofu press
Martha Stewart, whose recipe this is, recommends using canned goods to  weight down the tofu. But this is the Teeny Tiny Kitchen here and I don't keep cans of food on hand. The only can in the cupboard was a tin of spam I inherited from a previous tenant. But we have LOTS of books. Looking at the spines, you can tell what we're reading (and studying) these days...

Tofu with Broccoli Stir-Fry (adapted from Martha

1 package firm tofu (I used extra firm)
1 1/2 pounds or 3 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup cashews, toasted (optional)
Salt and pepper or Maggi seasoning to taste

Cut off the tough broccoli stems and trim the florets. Boil 4 cups of water with a little salt. Put the broccoli florets in the water for 2 minutes or until they turn bright green. Remove broccoli with a slotted skimmer and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

This is the easiest way to cut the tofu into uniform triangles. First, cut the tofu cake in half. Cut each half in half then cut each quarter in half.  Place the triangles on a baking sheet lined with 2-3 layers of paper towels. Top with another layer of paper towels. Either put another baking tray on top and weight it down with canned goods (or books). Or, as I did, put a layer of plastic beneath the books. Let stand for 20 minutes. Discard the paper towels.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry the tofu triangles 5-6 minutes on one side until golden brown. Carefully turn and fry for an additional 5-6 minutes on the other side. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. Pat the top with another paper towel. Set aside. Or keep warm in a low oven.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and cornstarch. Set aside. To the pan, add the broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Add the tofu and toss gently. Add the cashews, if using. I adjusted the seasoning by adding salt and pepper. Anna drizzled a little of the wasabi/rice vinegar dressing for the salad on it and said it tasted great!

Tofu with Broccoli Stir-Fry
Meat Loaf Roll with Spinach and Feta Cheese (from
This meat loaf is moist and full of flavor. It isn't necessary to cook the spinach first. It looks and tastes better when rolled up using fresh spinach. 

2 pounds lean ground meats (preferably a meat loaf mix of beef, lamb, and pork)
3/4 cup finely ground bread crumbs (I used Panko crumbs processed in a blender)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 carrots, finely grated
1 onion, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon or more dried herbs (I used dill and oregano)
1 pound fresh spinach, chopped
2 oz. feta cheese

Preheat oven 350˚F. Line a baking tray with foil (for easy clean up). Line 9x13 inch baking tray with waxed or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, milk, egg, carrots, onion, salt, pepper, and herbs. Turn out onto the waxed paper. With your fingertips, spread out the meat as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chopped spinach on top, leaving an inch border. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the spinach.

Roll up the paper, jelly-roll fashion. Lift up the paper at one of the shorter edges and gently roll away from you, not too tight but not too loose either,  easing up the paper as you roll the meat and the filling into a log. Moisten your fingers and seal the edges closed. Smooth the seam and any cracks closed. Gently roll the meat log onto the foil lined tray, sliding the paper away. It won't need any oil. I rolled it seam-side down on the baking tray. Bake 45 minutes or until the inside temperature is 160˚F. Turn off the oven. Let the meat loaf rest in the oven for 5 minutes.

I was afraid the meat loaf might be dry so I made a gravy. I poured the pan drippings into a small saucepan. Then, I added 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3/4 cup of water to the drippings. Next, heat until the gravy begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. It turned out I didn't need it but some people might like a gravy with meat loaf.
Meatloaf Roll with Spinach and Feta Cheese
Green Bean Medley
This vegetable dish is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook and it's a family favorite.

1 pound fresh string beans, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 carrots, cut into 2 inch sticks
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 medium red onion (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil 4 cups water with a little salt. Boil the carrots 2 minutes or until bright orange. Use a slotted skimmer to remove and rinse in cold water. Repeat with the green beans. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil, add garlic and onion, if using. Cook until just fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring for two minutes. Add carrots and green beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Green Bean Medley
Asian Avocado Salad (adapted from:
Originally called Asian Avocado Salsa, I adapted this recipe into a salad. It has a fiery wasabi dressing. Here's a tip to keep the apple and avocado from browning: sprinkle with lime or lemon juice.

2 cups coarsely chopped and trimmed romaine lettuce hearts
1/2 cup apple, chopped
2 avocados, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup grape tomatoes
Scallion and cilantro, chopped (optional)

Salad dressing
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)
Asian Avocado Salad
Almond Lake with Mandarin Oranges (from a Chinese cookbook by Alison Burt)
This dessert is a lightly sweet and creamy rice pudding with the crunchy taste of almonds. 

1/3 cup white rice, ground finely
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup almond flakes, toasted
1x15 oz. can Mandarin oranges in syrup

In a medium saucepan, add the rice, milk, sugar, and almond extract. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to simmer, and stir occasionally until thickened. Cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Top with mandarin oranges, syrup, and almond flakes.

Almond Lake with Mandarin Oranges and Almond Flakes

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize a collage

No comments:

Post a Comment