My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Friday, April 29, 2011

Peanut Crusted Tofu with Broccoli & Soba

I've recently enjoyed a couple of weeks of vacation after wrapping up early on a contract assignment. It perfectly coincided with Ryan's busy season ending, so we've had fun tooling around the Twin Cities and enjoying our new found free time. It is just what I needed before starting my next job in a few short days.

While most evenings were packed with activities, we did get a couple nights to experiment with recipes.

At a WWRC (Women Who Really Cook) meeting, a member who works for Bergin Fruit and Nut Company brought a few samples of their peanut meal for others to sample for free.

I grabbed a bag and started thinking of what I could make. Immediately I thought of coating tofu pieces in peanut meal to serve with broccoli and noodles. To keep the tofu crunchy and broccoli fresh, I tossed the noodles with peanut sauce, adding moisture to the dish.

Peanut Crusted Tofu with Broccoli and Soba
(serves 4)
Print Recipe

1 block extra-firm tofu, water packed
3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 1/4 cup water (or 1 beaten egg white)
1 cup peanut meal
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lb. broccoli
1 package buckwheat soba noodles

Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (I use crunchy)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp sriracha sauce

Drain and press tofu for 1 hour. Meanwhile, set up the coating station with peanut meal on one plate and whisked Ener-G and water (or egg white) on another plate. Once tofu is pressed, cut into bite-sized pieces and heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil.

Dip tofu into Ener-G mixture and then into peanut meal. Carefully place in hot skillet and repeat with remaining pieces, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Once evenly browned, remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep warm.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions. While noodles are cooking, steam the broccoli using your preferred method and make the peanut sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients and whisk together in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat and continue stirring until thickened. Toss with drained noodles and transfer to a serving dish. Top with steamed broccoli and crusted tofu.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hot Pot Night

Have you ever had hot pot? Me neither.

I didn't even know what it was until I wandered into Spoon and saw the back of their menu advertising hot pot. From what I gathered, it looked similar to fondue, but with a lot more ingredients. Turns out, it has existed in China for over one thousand years unlike fondue which only dates back to the 1950's.

This past weekend I got to experience hot pot for myself and it was fantastic!

First, you need a pot (a hot pot, duh):

It has a divider in it and sits on a hot plate. One side is a mushroom herb broth and the other side was a spicy broth. As the night went on, we added various greens and additional liquid as the levels got low.

My friend and his wife prepared 30 different dishes to cook in the hot pot that included things like oyster mushrooms, cuttlefish, short ribs, and tofu. I tried a little of everything (except for the pigs blood, gizzards and tripe), and loved the shrimp and clams, which took such little time to cook.

It was a fun group event that brightened up an otherwise cold and gloomy day. We spent the evening chatting, drinking wine, and convincing ourselves that despite our bulging bellies, we could eat just one more bite (which led to several more bites, of course).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spoon - Apple Valley

When I saw that a new restaurant had opened in Apple Valley, I got a bit geeked out. I came across a takeout menu in a store and started highlighting all the things we'd likely eat, a habit of mine when it comes to new restaurants. I was so excited that I decided we had to try it that night.

Spoon, a Vietnamese restaurant, is a great fit for our takeout needs. The first time we ordered from there, we were awed by the Lemongrass Tofu. The tofu had a nice texture and the lemongrass sauce was refreshingly fragrant. I only wish I had taken a picture!

I also ordered taro bubble tea, which was made to order. I have a feeling I might be stopping for dessert more often.

The second time ordering from Spoon proved to be a tad less awesome. We tried an order of orange chicken and while good, the accompanying vegetables looked a little drab.

The tofu lo mein was insanely greasy. You can't see it in this picture, but there was a puddle of grease under the noodles. Bummer!

Two slightly underwhelming dishes isn't enough to make me swear off the place. I'm still eager to go back and get more melt-in-your-mouth wontons and try the Singapore Noodles or maybe some dim sum on the weekend.

Spoon Restaurant
14871 Granada Avenue
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 891-2668
*warning, music plays on the site

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Standby Snack: Chips and Guac

Guacamole is typically my standby snack. Since I often have avocados on hand, all I have to do is brush a few corn tortillas with oil, cut them into triangles and bake for 12 minutes.  

Voila, snack time.

Usually, I add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and green Tabasco to mashed avocados with diced shallot, cilantro, tomato, lime juice, and salt. It doesn't really matter if I'm missing many of these ingredients - avocados are great on their own too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Black Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Since I've been working outside my home office for the last couple months, I've become more aware of how long meals take so I seek out quicker ones that still pack nutrients.

Ever since I first tried this Soy-Lime Tofu recipe from Eating Well , I've wanted to make it again and again. It is quite easy to make ahead of time and store in the fridge for later use. Since I marinated and baked the tofu on the weekend, we were able to throw together a quick salad using spinach, nectarines, dried cherries, and blue cheese crumbles. What made this salad especially awesome was the black cherry balsamic vinaigrette for a fruity and sweet dressing.

I picked up a bottle of black cherry balsamic vinegar from The Olive Grove in Mendota Heights and I just love it. Any flavor would work in this dressing, but black cherry is my flavor of the moment.

Black Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette
(makes 1 cup)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

This also works as a side salad for a main dish, just omit the tofu.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stone Beer Cheese Soup

These weeks need to stop flying by! I suppose it's my own fault for cramming one activity or another into every hour of the day, but still, ugh. It seems like just yesterday that I made the beer cheese soup, but in reality, it was over a week ago. Luckily, time doesn't fade the deliciousness of gooey cheese mixed with a kick of beer.

At least there were 3 cups of vegetables (onion, celery and parsnip) pureed in the soup to combat the cheddar, blue cheese, and heavy cream.

Given that the Stone Ruination could have been too bitter and I preferred to drink as much of the smoked porter as I could, I decided that the Stone Cali-Belgique would be the best in the soup.

I've never made beer cheese soup before, so I got the recipe from a fellow blogger friend, Food for my Family, who got it from Emeril. The soup was quite easy to make, but did take an hour to simmer, which had me running late for dinner.

Popcorn makes the best topping in my opinion; make sure you serve it on the side and add just a few pieces at a time for a bit of crispiness. Everyone really liked the soup except for my 3 year old niece. Instead, she just filled up on popcorn, which wasn't much of a surprise. I'd make the soup again, but it really isn't the healthiest. I suppose l'll have to find a healthier way to cook with beer. Until then...enjoy this sinful soup:

Beer Cheese Soup
(serves 4-6)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped parsnip
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
12 ounces Stone Brewery Cali-Belgique IPA
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cracked pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Freshly popped popcorn, for garnish

Heat oil over low heat in a large pot, add vegetables and cover. Cook vegetables for 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add flour slowly, stirring after each ¼ cup to remove any lumps. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Using a whisk, add vegetable stock and beer, bay leaf, cayenne pepper and cracked pepper.

Slowly bring to a boil, watching carefully. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, one hour. Remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return to pot and stir in heavy cream. Slowly stir in cheese, allowing time in between additions for soup to come back up to temperature. Add salt and additional pepper to taste. Top with freshly popped popcorn.

Disclosure: The beer used in the soup was sent to me by Stone Brewing Company. I was not obligated to write a post.
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