Ma Po Tofu

 

Last night, I learned two things:

1) I actually liked a dish with tofu!  So did my daughter and boyfriend!

2) It is extremely difficult, actually, damn near impossible to mince pork belly with my meat grinder.

That said, this turned out to be an amazing dish!  I had seen it many times on restaurant menus, but had always forgone ordering it due to my aversion to tofu.  You see, tofu to me, is akin to plastic nothingness.  I never got on the band wagon, and now I realize, that to truly enjoy this Asian/vegetarian staple, you have to cook it with something, so it can marinate and soak up all the flavours of whatever you are making.

I had recently seen a pretty good blog post from a fellow blogger, called Mrs. Chen: Old crone, pockmarked-face, tofu legend.  The description of the legend of this dish intrigued me, and his photos made me keen to try it.  So I did!  And I am soooo happy I did.  I absolutely loved it!  The sauce was just incredibly flavourful, chock full of garlic, spring onion, Sichuan pepper and chilies!

I did have a little bit of a problem though, we do have a couple of Asian markets here, so I made one variation to the sauce from the original recipe, I could find hot bean paste.  So, I added garlic black bean paste, and a tsp of this red chili paste/oil/madness to it.  I am assuming that this made up for the lack of it, and also gave it an extra garlicky umph!

So, thank you Andy, for pushing me to make this.  We will definitely make it again, and it has motivated me to try more dishes that include tofu!

You can find the original recipe here.

From my (via Andy’s) kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Apricot, Blueberry and Rosemary Galette

To me, summer means stone fruit and berries.  Mouth-watering cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums.  Ripe and succulent blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and the such.

Yesterday at our market, we overdosed on these.  We bought about 20 apricots, those fabulous flat peaches, which they call Paraguayos here, nectarines and blueberries.  I was pretty certain we couldn’t consume all that fruit before it goes bad…..but that is us.  We see things and we want them, thinking that we are going to go on a fruit fast or something.  But not so, because well, you know about how much food I brought back from Switzerland.

Since Sundays are our official lazy days, I figured, why not make a galette?  It is such an unfussy dessert, I love the free form crust, flaky yet consistent enough to hold all that fruit.  I chose to make the dough with rosemary, because my little plant is doing quite well, and I love rosemary in savoury and sweet dishes.  I also decided to fill it with apricots and blueberries.  That way, I am sure none of our fruit will go bad.

This is really easy to make, feel free to add any other herbs to your dough to make it your own.  And for these lazy summer days, nothing is nicer than a no-fuss galette with a glass of lemonade or iced tea.

Enjoy!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the galette:

Makes 2 disks

3 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

16 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled

2/3 cup ice water.

1 small sprig of rosemary

2 tbsp of sanding sugar

1 tbsp cream

Filling:

6 apricots, halved, and then slice the halves in two.

a handful of blueberries

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour, sugar and salt.  Mix on low-speed with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter, and mix until incorporated, and looks like wet sand, but there are still some big chunks of the butter that are visible.  Add the rosemary and mix.

Add the ice water all at once, and mix until incorporated.  Don’t overmix.  Gather the dough, and shape into two balls.  Wrap in plastic and shape into disks.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Take out the dough, and roll out one of your disks to whatever shape you want, square, rectangle, round.  Place on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment.  Arrange the fruit in the style that you most like, and then fold up the sides.  With a galette, you are the artist.  If you only want a tiny little peek of what’s inside, make the borders 4-5 inches.  If not, a good rule of thumb is stick to two inches.

Press some of the sanding sugar onto the borders of the dough, and sprinkle a little bit on the fruit.  Brush the entire galette, fruit and all, with the cream.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool a little before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I miss chinese take out.  I know, I know, it really isn’t authentic, and it has been americanized.  But boy, you should try the “spanish” version of chinese food.  Blech.  Yuck.  Naaaasty.  So, I have to make it at home.  And it is so easy, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I love it when you can get it prepared for you.  As a single mom and chef, I usually do the cooking.  So it’s nice to get some good take out.  Anyhow, back to the food.

Oddly enough, my daughter has always LOVED broccoli.  So, I try to incorporate it into most of her meals.  Last night, I had a hankering for Chinese food, so I looked in my pantry, and yes, I had all the condiments I needed.  You can use other sauces, but I love the combination of japanese and chinese spices and sauces.  The key to the beef is marinating, at least 30 minutes, but if you can for longer, go ahead!  I was happy to also be able to use these gorgeous japanese ceramic bowls that my friend Miki gave me a couple of years ago for my birthday.  I hardly ever use them because they are so beautiful, and I don’t think I will be traveling to Japan anytime soon.  But last night, I felt like treating myself!

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Serves 4

3 thin steaks, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup mirin

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp chinese 5 spice powder

1/8 cup corn starch

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup bean sprouts

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (straw mushrooms are the best in this case, but I used regular since they are hard to find)

Black sesame seeds, for garnish and a yummy, healthy crunch!

Marinate your steaks with the garlic, sesame oil, mirin, soy, fish sauce, and 5 spice.  Let it rest at least 30 minutes.

In a wok, or a large frying pan over high heat, add a little bit more sesame oil and the red pepper flakes.  When the oil is hot, add your broccoli and stir fry for about 7 minutes, or until bright green.

In the mean time, place the steak, without the sauce (but reserve it) in the cornstarch and mix well.  Add the steak and mushrooms to the wok with the broccoli and brown, about 4 minutes.  When it is browned, add the reserved sauce and about a cup of water.  Let boil over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, and then add the bean sprouts and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  The sauce should have reduced and thickened slightly.

Serve over noodles or steamed jasmine rice.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla