Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baking the Bacon

Do you like bacon?  I do.  But I hate the mess of frying it.  So I decided to give baking the bacon a try.  It works really well, the bacon is cooked in about the same amount of time as on the stove top, anyway from 15 minutes to 20, depending on thickness; it doesn’t make a mess (although you still have to dispose of the bacon grease. I like to strain mine and keep it in a container in the fridge, I use it to season green beans; fried potatoes, or even fried eggs).  And baking it is a great technique when you need to make bacon for a large group.


Great results baking bacon

Here’s what you do.  Put the bacon slices on a heavy rimmed cookie sheet.  Place it into a cold oven, turn the heat on to 375 degrees F and then just watch it cook; turn it a couple of times with tongs and when it’s cooked to your liking; remove the pan and drain the bacon on paper towels.  Discard the grease in the pan.  If you don’t care about keeping the grease, you could line the pan with some foil and then once the grease gets cold, roll it up and  just throw it away.

LindySez: Give it a try, baked not fried.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Claus has come and gone...Now what's for breakfast?

Christmas morning.  It was years before our son beat us up in the morning.  No seriously.  We would wake up about 8 o’clock and he would still be snoozing; so we’d do a “pile on” to get him going.  But once he was up…look out.  He was all over Christmas.  We would take our time, opening and sharing presents; drinking coffee, that turned into drinking a little champagne or sparkling wine and then making something for breakfast.  Quiche was one of our favorites, French toast another.  A rasher of bacon or some sausage; orange juice to mix with that champagne and then settle into a day of checking out and playing with our new goodies and cooking Christmas dinner.  Whether you are enjoying a family tradition your already have, or are looking for a new idea for Christmas morning; here are a few of my favorites.
I made this stuffed French toast recipe up for my client to use one of their newest products; Perugina Panettone.  Panettone is a traditional Italian cake, usually enjoyed during the Christmas season.   It really make a delicious french toast on it’s own, but is even better when stuffed.

Stuffed Panettone French Toast

Stuffed Panettone French Toast
Ingredients
  • 1 panettone traditional Italian cake
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone, or as needed (or desired)
  • 6 tablespoons apricot jam, or as needed
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cream, (it’s important to use cream, not milk, or the cake will get too soggy and it will be hard to keep it together when you turn it)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar for serving; optional

Directions
  1. Using a sharp serrated knife, thinly slice off two of the ends of the cake (save for another use); you should now have what resembles a loaf. Slice the cake into 8 even slices, about 1/3 inch thick.
  2. Lay on a clean work surface. spread mascarpone on one side of 4 pieces, and apricot jam on the other 4, fold together to form a “sandwich”.
  3. In a large shallow bowl beat the eggs until well mixed; add the cream and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined.
  4. Heat the oil and butter together in a large skilled or griddle over medium heat; when hot, dip each “sandwich” on both sides into the egg mixture; put on the hot griddle (do not dip the sandwich until ready to cook them; do in batches if necessary); cook until browned, then carefully turn and cook the other side. Serve whole, or cut in half, sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired.
  5. LindySez: While I think mascarpone is the best choice, you could substitute softened cream cheese if desired.
  6. Variation: Use either orange marmalade or peach jam in place of the apricot jam.
Or how about a classic quiche?  You can make the crust the day before, have all of the cheese grated, eggs and cream mixed and then just put it together and pop it in the oven.  This one has bacon in it; try that or even some spinach.  Defrost a box of frozen chopped spinach, still one of the best bargains in the grocery store; squeeze it dry and put it into the shell with the cheese; pour the egg mixture over and voila.

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients
1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 slices of thick bacon, fried crisp and chopped (or chop first and then crisp) drained
  • 8 ounces gruyere, emmenthal, or other good Swiss cheese, grated (I use a 1/2 combo of gruyere and emmenthal)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Directions
  1. Whether you make your own crust or not, we want to first blind bake it. (If you made your own, put it into the freezer for about 30 minutes, if you bought one, it’s probably already frozen, so leave it so.) Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line your crust with aluminum foil and pie weights or beans to keep it from puffing up; and bake in the bottom third of the oven for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and remove the foil and weights; return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the bottom is just golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream and milk. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  3. Decrease oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  4. Toss together the cheese and chopped bacon; layer into the bottom of the cooled shell. Pour the egg/cream mixture over.
  5. Place in the oven and bake, 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife, when inserted into the center, comes out clean (if the edges become too dark, place strips of aluminum foil over the edges.
  6. Allow to stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Here’s another family fav.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Chili Rellano  Casserole

Ingredients
  • 1 large can roasted whole green chilies (such as Ortega), drained and split open
  • 1 pound shredded jack cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 (12 – ounce) can evaporated milk, (you can use reduced fat)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Layer the chilies and the cheese in a casserole dish. Mix together the milk and eggs, beat well; pour over chilies and cheese. Bake 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot or warm.
Like with the quiche, this casserole can be assembled the day before.  Shred the cheese and layer it with the chilies.  Mix together the eggs and milk (keep in a separate container) and in the morning; heat the oven, pour the egg/milk mixture over the cheese in the casserole dish, pop it in the oven and go back to enjoying your Christmas morning until it’s done.
And of course, let’s not forget Super Simple Scones.  And in honor of the season, how about using some dried cranberries, pecans and grating in some orange zest?

Super Simple Scones

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup HEAVY cream, plus more for brushing
  • About 1/2 cup dried fruit, such as dried blueberries, apricots (cut into small pieces), or dried cranberries, or other fruits of your choice
  • About 1/4 cup toasted nuts (I like sliced almonds, but pecans or walnuts work too) or to taste

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking pan.
  2. Sift together, in a medium bowl, the flour, baking powder and salt, stir in the sugar. Add the fruits and nuts. Stir with a fork to combine.
  3. Add the cream; stir just until a dough forms.
  4. Gather the dough into a ball; turn out onto a lightly floured counter or work surface, and fold and kneed about 6 or 7 times…then pat out into about a 10 inch round about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a knife or pastry cutter into 8 wedges. Place them on the prepared sheet; brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with some sugar; place in the oven (rack in the middle of the oven); and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until nice and browned.
No matter if you choose one of these, my favorites, or one of your own favorites…

LindySez - “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Cheers.”


Friday, December 18, 2009

When Diet Food Isn't

I think it’s safe to say that most of us eat out at least a couple times a week, for either lunch or dinner.  So what choices we make are very important, especially when we are thinking about losing or at least not gaining any weight.  Here’s some food for thought:

“I’ll have a salad please”

Caesar salad
What 1010 calories and 76g of fat looks like

You are being so good, having a salad for lunch.  Maybe you even remembered to order the dressing on the side.  But be careful; not all salads are created equal.  For example:  a BBQ Chicken Salad at Applebees has a whopping 1360 Calories (that’s not a typo, that’s one thousand three hundred and sixty) with 21 grams of fat.  Hardly diet food.  And a Chicken Caesar Salad at Chilis?  1010 calories with 76 (seventy six) grams of fat.  That Cobb at Mimi’s Cafe?  1121 calories and 95g of fat.  You would actually be better off, calorie wise, to go with a McDonald’s Big Mac at only 540 calories and 29g of fat, or have their cheeseburger for a mere 300 calories and 12g of fat.  Add a small fry, 248 calories and 13g fat, and you’d still be under the calories and fat of that virtuous salad.  Now that said, the veggies of the salad may trump the fat and especially the saturated fats of the burger…but you get the idea that you have to be careful not only of what kind of salad you order…but how your order it.

A cobb salad
Here's 1121 Calories and 95g fat

“Dressing on the side” – should be your mantra.  Yet, the other day, while having a quick lunch, I noticed that many of the people who ordered the dressing on the side proceeded to dump the entire contents of that side dressing on their salad.  That simply defeats the purpose and the result is you are consuming as many, and possibly more calories and fat then if you had just ordered your salad “lightly dressed.”  Tablespoon for tablespoon, salad dressing is calorie heavy.  One tablespoon of Ranch Dressing has 73 calories and 7.7g of fat, Italian? 43 calories and 4.2g fat.  Caesar? 78 calories with 8.5g fat.  That’s on average, but the bottom line is you want to use dressings sparingly.  The best method?  Dip the tines of your fork into the dressing, then grab some salad on it, and eat it.  You get the full flavor of the dressing and use very little.

Another place you need to be very careful is that visit to the salad bar.  Lettuce is pretty much a freebie, but once you start adding those salad bar extras, that lean meal gets pretty fat.  Olives, eggs, cheese, nuts, bacon, all add up pretty quickly.  And any salad that is pre-made, especially those that contain mayonnaise, well, you know where those extra calories are going to end up…yep…on your hips with a side to your waist and butt.
So remember to be selective in your salad choices.  If you want that Caesar for lunch, ask for it to be served with half the cheese (at minimum) and take those croutons off, o.k. you can leave a couple of them on, but get rid of the rest…and order that dressing “on the side” using the tine dipping method.

Here’s a light version of Caesar Salad you can easily make at home.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

LindySez: It’s the way to a slimmer, healthier you.

It's Cioppino Sunday


It’s Sunday.  Up, not too early (after all, we do need our beauty sleep) we plan our day.  Our Sonoma County museum is currently showing an exhibit,  a collection of maps, old maps, maps from the beginning of maps.  Discovery maps.  So we decide to go see this after an excellent breakfast of some Super Simple Scones, bacon and a beautiful Chandon Rose sparkling wine (it’s not champagne unless it comes from Champagne and that’s in France, Chandon is in Napa County in California so it’s sparkling wine.)  Of course, as is typical in my house, as we are eating our breakfast we are discussing what else we might eat during the day, specifically, for dinner… “I want something seafood” says the hubby…”and to be served with a red wine, a Syrah.”   “How about cioppino?”  I ask.  ”Sounds great” he says, “Whole Foods has some crab and I’ll make some garlic toasts to go with.”  Day planned.

We go to the exhibit, very interesting how the world was viewed in the years before Columbus, and even after how much influence the church had in determining what was acceptable as a world view and what was not. Did you know that Galileo was put under house arrest by the church because he proved the universe did not revolve around earth, but that it revolved around the sun?  Crazy thoughts now, but back then, not so much. And all the early maps show California as an island off the coast of America.  Well, if there’s a big quake, that might not be too far off the money.
Sonoma County Musuem
Early map with California as an island

 After the exhibit we decided to get a little bite at  a Thai place called Khoom Lanna, one of the few food establishments smart enough to be open in downtown Santa Rosa on a Sunday (and they wonder why there’s no business in our little downtown, um…people want to go to places where they can get something to eat…ya think?).  We ordered a few appetizers, they were not only beautifully presented, they were delicious.

Goodie Bags
Good Good Goodie Bags

On to seafood shopping.  As the DH said there was crab at Whole Foods, and I prefer their sustainable practices for seafood, meat and poultry, we decide to go there.  They don’t have any crab. “But you had some last week”…well they say, yes they did have it last week but since our local crabbing season starts tomorrow…we didn’t order any from Oregon or Washington and that’s where we got it last week…ya know, the whole local thing.   Great.  OK…so new plan.  We get our fresh clams, mussels, some shrimp and decide to go with Alaskan king crab leg (yeah, that’s totally local) and a lobster tail (Maine?) to replace the Dungenous crab.  While less local then before, I think it’s going to be one great Cioppino.

Lindy’s Cioppino


LindySez: When working with fresh shellfish, make sure that the bags (usually plastic) are not closed, ask them to leave them open.  Also, watch the person who is picking out your shellfish, don’t let them just grab them willy nilly, make sure they are checking them to make sure your bivalves are alive.  Alive is when the shells, even when open, close as soon as you touch them.  Dead is when they stay open .  And you don’t want dead. When you get home, take the clams and mussels out of the bags and put them into a large bowl, do not put them on ice, (as the ice melts they will drown) or put them in water.  I know, it seems counter intuitive, they live in water don’t they?  Yes, they do, but they can’t live in tap water.  So, put them into a large bowl and cover them with a damp clean towel and pop them into the refrigerator. (If you keep them like this, and the towel stays damp, you could probably keep them for a couple of days, although I like to buy and eat mine on the same day). Do not clean them until you are ready to cook them.  To clean them, rinse them under cold running water, scrubing the shells and taking and beards off the mussels.

LindySez: Cheers to Cioppino Sunday.

Dinner Possible - Mexican Style Chicken

poblano chili

Yes, I love to cook.  But some days I just don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, or going to the store, or cleaning up after.  And I also don’t want to go out and spend an hour waiting for someone to bring me some mediocre food and charge me an outrageous amount of money for the privilege of eating their “fast food” that isn’t.  On those days I make what I call “a pantry meal”.  Using ingredients I have on hand, a little imagination and voila, I came up with this really tasty dish that was simple to prepare and on the table in about 15 minutes.  Granted, my pantry might be different then your pantry, (I’ll write soon about what I think should be in a  well stocked pantry); but these ingredients are easy to find, easy to prepare and won’t cost you an arm and a leg either.

I started with some chicken breasts, (which I always have on hand), a poblano and jalapeno pepper, (leftover from my dinner party preparations); a bag of frozen Trader Joes brown rice (a really handy thing to have on hand, 3 minutes in the microwave); a can of black beans and some Mexican style tomato sauce (I actually made some of this with my garden tomatoes and chilies and had it in the freezer…but a canned one will work just fine)

Mexican Style Chicken on Rice with Black Beans


Cutting the chicken breasts
Preparing the breast for plating
Mexican Style Chicken on Rice with Black Beans
Mexican Style Chicken

LindySez:  I hope you check it out and try it.  Simply good, simply simple.  And all in about 15 minutes.  Cheers

Dinner Possible - Spicy Mint Chicken or...

Here are a couple of weeknight meal ideas.  When I don’t have a lot of time or energy, I find these both easy and satisfying.  And since right now I’m working on a dinner party for Saturday, well, if you’ve been reading then you know that means pre-planning and pre-cooking.

Both of these meals use the same basic ingredients, chicken, snap peas, carrots, and rice. I prefer to serve a floral and flavorful Jasmine rice with these, but you could also just use white or brown rice.  Brown rice takes longer to cook; but it’s better for you because it has more fiber. One complaint I’ve always had about brown rice is its texture,  it always turns out chewy…but I found that by cooking it twice, (actually if you want to get technical,  you cook it once, and then steam it) it gives you get a nice soft brown rice.  And it actually takes less time to cook with this method.  Twice Cooked Brown Rice

Meal Idea #1 - Spicy Mint Chicken
This is a one pot, one stop stir fry.  Once you do the mincing and chopping, about 15 minutes worth of time, the stir fry only takes about 6 – 8 minutes…from the time the chicken hits the pan.  Start your rice when you start your prep and everything should end up done about the same time.  Try this on Ginger-Scented Jasmine Rice.

LindySez: It’s good.

Meal #2 Chinese -Style Baked Chicken Thighs is a very simple recipe using chicken thighs, or you could use legs and thighs if you want.  I know the kids love their chicken legs. They are simply basted and baked with some Hoisin Sauce. Hoisin sauce is basically Chinese barbecue sauce, with a sweet spicy flavor.  Serve these Chinese – Style Baked Chicken Thighs with the Ginger-Scented Jasmine Rice ; take those snow peas and carrots, steam them lightly, toss with a little butter or sesame seed oil and sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top, if you have any.

Dinner Menu #1, goes really nicely with a Viognier, the tropical fruits compliment the sweet mint and slight heat from the jalapeno.   Dinner Menu # 2 goes nicely with a Pinot Noir. The fruit in the Pinot works beautifully with the slightly anise flavors in the 5-Spice as well as the sweet hot of the hoisin.  They both go great with some Jasmine Tea.

LindySez: Cheers to easy!

Tell the Colonel Good-bye...Simply the Best Fried Chicken

The days are getting shorter and shorter, and on Sunday, we loose an hour.  How is that possible, that we can loose an hour? (update…we actually gain an hour, as we fall back)  Where does it go?  (Hey, I figured this out too…it goes to spring forward!)  This is the perfect weekend for some real comfort food!

What makes a comfort food a comfort food?   Usually it’s something enjoyed from childhood, that  makes it a comfort food.  Or something that makes you feel all warm on the inside, that’s comfort food.  A taste, a smell, a texture.  I think this dinner possible menu fits the total bill.

I start with some great home fried chicken. This isn’t just any fried chicken recipe, but with years of tweaking, I think, humbly, it’s simply one of the best.  It’s good hot, warm or cold.  So it would be perfect to take to a tailgate party.

Serve some deliciously smooth and creamy mashed potatoes and a fresh green bean and cherry tomato salad and imagine yourself in a cozy farmhouse kitchen with a fire burning in the hearth…soul-warming comfort.  That’s what that is.
Simply the Best Fried Chicken
There are a couple of tricks to making a really good fried chicken, but one of the most important ones is to soak the chicken in buttermilk for at least a couple of hours. This gives the meat great flavor and a slightly softer texture.  The second thing is to season the meat well, don’t season the flour, put the seasonings directly on the chicken pieces.  This insures that all the meat is properly seasoned.  Cooking at a steady, fairly low temperature is also key.  You don’t want to burn the outside and have raw chicken inside.  That is just not good.  And finally, draining the chicken.  Do it on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet (the cookie sheet is there to catch the oil but if you don’t mind cleaning counters, you can skip it :-) ).  Setting the pieces on paper towels or brown paper bags will soften the coating.  And while it will taste just fine, it won’t have the same crunch.  Now granted, if you refrigerate it to eat it cold, you will still loose the crunchiness in the coating, so if that is your purpose, to eat it cold, then go ahead and use any method to drain it.  Also if you try putting it in the oven to keep warm, the moisture generated will soften the crust.  So it’s best, if you want it crunchy, to eat it as soon as you can after finishing it.

Simply the Best Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes.

I love mashed potatoes.  I remember the first time I went to Thanksgiving dinner at what was to be my new in-law’s house. They were setting up a big pot of water, with some milk and some butter and I asked them what they were making…”Mashed potatoes” came the reply.  Potato  Buds to be precise.  Now I think dehydrated potatoes have their place in this world, we used them when, as a child,  we would go camping for a few weeks in the high Sierras, (and practically all we ate was dehydrated food)  but they do NOT belong at Thanksgiving.  I didn’t say anything that year, I bit my tongue, and with enough gravy got them down in a most polite way.  But the next year, I stepped up to the plate, so to speak,  and said “We are having real mashed potatoes”.  But my MIL hesitated, “they always turn out like glue” she said.  With further investigation I found she was always trying to make her mashed potatoes out of White Rose potatoes, and that just isn’t going to work.  White Rose potatoes are a waxy potato, and you need to use a starchy potato to make a good mashed potato, my preference, a russet potato.  While Idaho would like to have us believe differently,  russet potatoes come from all over, not just Idaho…sorry Idaho.  Some people like to use red potatoes, or Yukon Gold, just make sure whichever potato you use, it’s got at least medium starch.  And, it’s always best to “dry” them out a little before adding the butter and milk.  Mashed potatoes should be creamy, smooth, no lumps.  Whipped together with fine butter and milk or cream or half and half, or my fav, buttermilk. Well, at least that’s my comfort food.

Mashed Potatoes


And finally we finish our meal with a simple  Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad. This uses the last of the season tomatoes (or you could dice an heirloom tomato).  It’s simple and delicious.

LindySez: I’m getting ready to hunker down, make a fire in the fireplace, wrap myself in my comforter, with a good book in my hand, or a good movie on the TV and enjoy this next season…full of holidays and family.

Cheers!

Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, a Swiss Chalet? Perfect Cheese Fondue



LindySez Making a Traditional Cheese Fondue
LindySez Making a Traditional Cheese Fondue


Our family enjoyed a cheese fondue every Christmas eve when I was growing up.  Each year, as we stood around the fondue pot, we would comment on how “that was the best one yet”.  Except for the one year when my father decided to follow a recipe that called for putting flour in it.  We did NOT like that one!  So when I was recently asked how to make it – that was the first thing I told them… don’t toss the cheese with flour.  ALL the recipes tell you to do it and you shouldn’t, it makes the fondue grainy…and it doesn’t soak into the bread like it should…I like mine to be a homogeneous creamy gooey cheesy pot of yum.
So here are the basics of making an excellent cheese fondue, the proper way :-) (or at least the LindySez way).

Use good cheese, I use half Emmental Swiss and gruyere, grate them up and toss them with some salt and fair amount of pepper. Let them sit out at room temp so they melt better . Cut your bread (good french bread, but not sourdough) into bite sized pieces making sure to have crust on each piece. Let those sit out for a while too so they aren’t too soft.

To each pound of cheese that you use, you are going to use 1 3/4 cups of a dry white wine, such as a Fume Blanc, a California Sauv Blanc (don’t use a New Zealand one as most are too grassy) or a Pouilly-Fume. When you are ready to make the fondue, rub the pot with a clove of garlic (we like garlic, so we leave the clove in, but you don’t need to); then place over a medium heat and add the wine. When the wine comes to a simmer, start slowly adding the cheese, sprinkling in a handful at a time, allowing each addition to melt (my dad said you always have to stir in the same direction, in a figure 8 motion, don't stir in a circle or the cheese will just turn into a big glop in the middle of a pot of wine, figure 8 is key); keep adding until you have a nice thick sauce, then add a splash of Kirsch and a pinch of nutmeg. Put over a burner to keep it bubbling, and stir often when you dip your bread.

A pound of cheese is enough for 4 people; or more if you are serving other things.  And the amounts are guesstimates.  I almost always grate too much cheese, so only add as much as you need to get the right consistency ; when you dip a piece of bread into the fondue, you want a nice coating of cheese and for the bread to absorb the wine.  That’s what it’s all about, cheese, wine and bread.  So use the best you can of each ingredient.  And any left over cheese makes for a mighty good ham and cheese omelet.

LindySez – and that’s how we fondue.  Now you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dinner Possible - Ma Po Tofu

OK…I hear the groans already.  ”I don’t like tofu, it’s all soft and icky”.  Well, try this presentation, and I might just change your mind.
Tofu is soybean curd, a soft cheese like food that is made by curdling fresh hot soy milk with a coagulant; traditionally nigari; then it is pressed into blocks and kept either in a tub of salted water or vacuum packed. Either way, once it’s opened, you need to put any that you don’t use into a container with fresh water, change the water DAILY, and use it up within a week.
Tofu is a bland food.  It simply takes in the flavors of the seasonings in the dish it is being added to.
There are 3 main types of tofu; firm tofu is dense and holds up well in stir-fry dishes, soups or even on the grill (it’s what we are using for our stir-fry).  Soft tofu is a good choice for recipes that call for a blended tofu, or in an Oriental soup.  Silken tofu is made with a slightly different process that makes it softer and more custard like.  In Japan, silken tofu is enjoyed as is, dipped into a bit of soy sauce.  Silken tofu is what is most generally put into Japanese Miso Soup.
Tofu is a rich, high quality protein.  It is an excellent food source for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly.  It is a total chameleon, you can make it taste any way you want it to…
In this recipe, we take firm tofu and dry it between paper towels weighed down with a plate.  This takes the excess moisture out of the slices and then you can fry it and get a crisp edge.  I also use Buckwheat noodles (Soba); because its a natural grain, but if you prefer, you can use some whole wheat angel hair pasta.

Ma Po Tofu


Ma Po Tofu
Ingredients
  • 1 (12 – ounce) container firm tofu (you can use silken if you desire, I just buy firm tofu)
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 8 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup edamame, thawed if frozen**
  • 1 pound Soba noodles, cooked according to package directions, or whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly for garnish (optional)

Directions
  1. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices and place between several layers of paper towels, put a dinner plate on top and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the plate, discard the paper towels and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce and garlic chili sauce; set aside.
  3. In a food processor, add the pork cubes, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and green onions. Pulse until the meat is finely chopped.
  4. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tofu and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly browned; remove and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining oil and the pork mixture; saute, stirring frequently to break up the pieces; saute until the pork loses its pink color. Add the edamame and tofu; saute 1 minute.
  6. Add the sauce mixture; bring to a simmer and simmer until slightly thickened.
  7. Toss the hot cooked noodles with the sesame seed oil. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls, top with the Ma Po Tofu and garnish with green onions, if desired.
  8. Per Serving: 627 Calories (19% from fat); 14g Fat (2g Sat, 7g Mono, 3g Poly); 37g Protein; 95g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 495mg Sodium.
  9. *Oyster sauce and chili garlic sauce can be found in most supermarkets or at an Oriental Grocery Store.
  10. **Edamame (soy beans) can be found in most supermarkets in their frozen food section. If you cannot find edamame, move. Or substitute frozen peas.

LindySez: Chopsticks are optional…