Sage Infused Tofu in Roasted Peanut Sauce for TGRWT #21

It's been quite some time since we've had a new challenge from the cutting edge folks at TGRWT, otherwise known as They Go Really Well Together.  The latest is a pairing of sage and roasted peanuts, being modestly hosted by Greg of Humbling Attempts at Creativity.   Go to the TGRWT site for some of the stranger challenge combinations from past months.

Greg mentioned a few other food items that share volatile compounds (the basic operative principle here) with BOTH sage and roasted peanuts, among which were:  Basmati rice, butter and kecap manis sauce, which is a medium sweet soy sauce.   Those were the  additional flavor compatibles I included in this dish.


Beef Ravioli With Chiffonade of Greens in Truffle Butter

My plating for this post leaves a lot to be desired.  Too rushed at the end, as per usual.  But at least I'm still having fun with those sweet little Nasoya egg wraps.  This time they're filled with beef and a bit of mashed sweet potato, and topped with a chiffonade of lightly sauteed beet and mustard greens, all swirled in truffle butter.  And, just so you know, it tasted way better than it looks. Delicious in fact.

Originally I was only going to use mustard greens, but the beets had been cooked, (see previous post) and their nice little tops were calling out to me.  However, when you stir beet greens with something white, guess what happens?  Sure, they're called beet GREENS, but a reddish tint follows them about.  It's really OK, I like pink.  Only next time maybe not.

Also, when  left-over pot roast is glaring at you from a shelf in the fridge, this is one of the many things you can do with it.  I didn't use a grinder, just minced the beef extremely fine, added in a bit of the sauce, some mashed, cooked sweet potato, carrot, an egg, salt and pepper.


Beets With Garlic-Walnut Sauce

I love the idea here, of a Beet Salad, in which the more usual feta is replaced with garlic and walnuts.  "Give the goats a break."  Bittman is so funny. So, this is his Beet Salad with Garlic-Walnut Sauce.  A winning combination, from the Minimalist Series, (A Divorce for Beets and Goat Cheese) on the NY Times website.

You begin with oven roasting beets in foil. Since I received a few little beets in shades of red-orange and burgundy from my CSA,  this was a natural do do for I Heart Cooking Clubs with the garlic and Vampire theme this week. They were just enough for salad for the two of us.


Mark Bittman's Easy Whole Grain Flatbread

I did finally buy one of Mark Bittman's cookbooks (Food Matters), but truth be told, my favorite recipe resource is still his inimitable video series, The Minimalist at the NY Times site.  He has such a cute sense of humor, which comes across better on camera.  Just my opinion.  Also, I'm cheap and have too many cookbooks already. (Is such a thing possible?) So, this contribution is from his show, a recipe for the easiest flatbread you will EVER bake.  No lie, I am here to tell you, after years of baking bread.  He gives two versions of the recipe, one plain with only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and olive oil.  The other has coconut milk replacing the water and incorporates curried cauliflower.  That I want to try next.

Unfortunately, the bread is not all that photogenic.  It's flatbread.  What can I say.  But the taste was lovely, crunchy on the sides from the olive oil, softer inside, the flavor of toasty grains overall.  I added in some teff flour, as this bread reminded me a bit of  Injera,  an Ethiopian flatbread I'd made last year sometime, which is also made from teff.  Besides that little variation, how could a chance to use sourdough starter be passed up?  So, sue me, I can't seem to follow a recipe as given.  He mentions using corn meal for part of the flour, so teff is just another grain away.


Pesto Penne

This is Pesto with a difference - yes, yet AGAIN.  But hey, Pesto is one of those cooking basics that can be endlessly reinterpreted, which is a good thing.  Because we've got an ongoing need to use up things creatively, not letting good stuff go to waste, right?  So, this time it is Russian kale and sorrel pesto with walnuts, walnut oil and some fresh mint.  Each time, I think, THIS IS IT, the ultimate pesto. But, probably I'll never be content to just stick with one recipe.

It made a great lunch, tossed with penne and a few of the cooked white beans from another fabulous recipe.  One I found to use the first bunch of my CSA sorrel.  I still had some left, which was the motivation here.


Sticky Toffee Pudding for Cook the Books

"Life without pudding is unthinkable."
              Tamasin Day-Lewis

And, there you have it.  My inspiration from Nigel Slater's, Eating for England, would have to be pudding.  His firmly tongue-in-cheek book of essays on the food quirks of that nation, is our current Cook the Books Club selection. Our assignment was to read the book, and then to cook and post about something it inspired.

This is not your pick up, and can't stop reading thriller, or romance novel.  It can be read between those sorts of books very easily. Taken up and put down at leisure.  A selection of stand alone, funny vignettes and little rants on the quirks, habits, and treasured food traditions of Britain, it is a loosely informative, enjoyable romp.   We learn such things as the usefulness of the Aga (mainly for making proper toast and keeping the dog warm), what makes a perfect Welsh Rarebit, the erotic appeal of a Cadbury's Flake, and the history and social indications of Trifle.  Good fun throughout.

I especially enjoyed Slater's dissertation on Boiled Brussels Sprouts, since Bob has just laid down the law around here, insisting they be boiled or steamed only.  None of that roasted, caramelized bunk.  Which, personally I don't really care, I just let him eat them ALL.


Cannelloni alla Madonita

This post for Presto Pasta Nights is all about what not to do.  Well, not ALL, but a few things to consider anyway.  The idea was to make cannelloni, using those nifty little Nasoya egg roll wraps, which were very successful in my Lemon Feta Ravioli.  This is another perfect application for them.  They work excellently for cannelloni.  It was just me.  Two mistakes which you can easily avoid.  Which I should have avoided, since I've made cannelloni so many times.  One would think it could have been done blindfolded.  It's good to learn from the errors of others.  Saves doing a botch job yourself.

Numero uno, don't crowd your pan.  Use a bigger one.  If they are touching, they will stick.  Still tasting good, but the presentation and serving is marred. And we foodies HATE that.  Next, butter the bottom of the dish, or put a bit of the sauce there, also so they won't stick.  Do you get what happened?  Everything stuck. Other than that, it was just fine.  Smiley face.


Seasonal Fruit Desserts - Cookbook Review

 Speaking as one for whom chocolate, in all its myriad forms, is the dessert of choice, reading Deborah Madison's lovely, new, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, was a good kick out of the box, to say the least.  I love fruit. Love, love, love, though tend to eat it mostly for breakfast, unless of course, it is topping something like cheesecake.  Just my particular preference rut.  At any rate, it was such a delight to be asked to review this beautiful book.  I am looking forward to trying EVERY single recipe.

The photography, by Laurie Smith, is really outstanding.   Her shots draw you in, creating a strong desire to have some, of whatever it is. And, you have to appreciate that wherever there is a photograph, the recipe is on the opposite page, for easy reference, thoughtfully produced, so when you have the book open, it stays that way, lying flat while you're cooking with those floury hands.

Deborah Madison, as founding chef of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, an expert on local produce, and an award-winning author of nine cookbooks, brings well informed background to this book.  She covers a wide variety, everything from pawpaws to lychees, all types of berries, as well as a good section on dried and preserved fruits, making her book truly seasonal. She also has chapters on cakes, cookies, pastries and lovely accompaniments to go with fruit, such as Sabayon and Almond Frangipane. So, for purposes of this review I selected three desserts to sample.  Hard work.


Lemon Feta Ravioli

You talk about your Presto Pasta, oh boy, this has got to be it.  So quick and easy, yet so delicious. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's new book, Plenty, which should be a hot seller, if we can go by the fabulous recipes taken from it, and recently released in a Guardian exclusive.  You can find the original there.  Here is my quick-time adaptation of his Lemon and Goat's cheese Ravioli.

Lemon Feta Ravioli
For the filling:
300g soft goat's cheese (I used a local dill feta)
1 tablespoon preserved salt lemon, rinsed and minced finely
1 pinch chilli flakes
Black pepper

1 package egg roll wrappers (I used Nasoya Brand - He, of course, makes his own)
1 egg white, beaten
To serve
2 tsp crispy fried sage leaves, crumbled
Grated zest of 1 lemon 
Rapeseed or Olive oil
Lemon juice (optional)
or use your favorite Marinara Sauce as I did (because it was there)


Spinach and Pancetta Strata for Recipes to Rival

  This Month's challenge at Recipes to Rival was Spinach and Pancetta Strata.  Selected and hosted by Temperance at High on the Hog.  A perfect choice, seeing how over the years I have collected countless recipes for Strata, meaning to make it, but somehow never have.  So, this was just the push needed.

On the other hand, I don't know why it rarely seems to work out that I just do it by the book, use every ingredient called for, and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  Well, first off, pancetta does not seem to be an ingredient in our Natural Foods Store.  And, I prefer not to buy pork products from other sources.  Therefore, we (in the royal sense) used prosciutto instead.  Also, as you may be sick of hearing, I have certain greens to use up every week from my CSA box.  Those did not include spinach this month.  Everything else, yes.  So, we were creative here as well, using mizuna. The Good Lord saw fit to give us such an amazing selection in the greens department of creation.  What variety!  I just love it.  The milk around our house is often soy milk, and as for the bread, what I had cubed in my freezer was pretty close, Kalamata olive and Rosemary French, rather than Italian.  But, hey France is very near to Italy. And those extra yummy little bits could only help, right?  Then, I'm all ready to go and discover, oh woe, no onion at hand.  But, we had some lovely shallots.  All my substitutions worked out well, still here is the recipe as given: