Archive for June, 2011

June 29, 2011

Green Bean Sauté with Chickpea-Arugula Salad

by Jen

I wanted to prepare a simple dish whose ingredients would be likely to survive the bicycle ride home from Russo’s, and found this recipe for green beans, wax beans, tomatoes, and garlic.  The result was roughly equal to the sum of its parts.  I also bought some arugula, and made it into a side salad with chickpeas and feta cheese, dressed with a basalmic vinaigrette.

June 26, 2011

Awesome Tofu

by Jen

This tofu is the culmination of a Jen-and-Alexa think tank focused on how best to cook tofu for casual consumption.  The first attempt was made during a sushi party held on January 10, 2009, in honor of Alexa’s birthday; the tofu cooked that night was deemed “surprisingly good” by Vanessa, which showed us that we were on the right track.

Countless subsequent attempts have yielded the following recipe.  All quantities are approximate (“to taste”) but I am writing down the quantities I used for this batch.

We eat this hot, thrown into stir fries; at room temperature, as a snack; and cold, in salads, as we did today.


We paired this with Marqués de Montañana Viura 2009 from Trader Joe’s.  At $3.99, we find it “pleasant, mild, not thrilling, but nice.”


  • 1 container extra firm tofu (15 oz), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp oil (I use mostly olive oil, sometimes with a few drops of sesame oil)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (ours is “Reduced Sodium” so you might want to use less, or use less salt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • some red pepper flakes (optional)
  • some rice vinegar (optional)


  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a shallow frying pan. Throw in the red pepper flakes for a few seconds, and then throw in the tofu.  The tofu may stick a little — you can turn down the heat, or throw in some vinegar to deglaze.  Stir frequently.
  • After a couple of minutes, the tofu will have some very light brown coloring.  Throw in the soy sauce and salt, to taste.  Stir frequently.
  • After about 5 minutes, the soy sauce should be mostly absorbed.  Add the brown sugar.  Stir frequently.
  • Cook for five more minutes, until the pieces have a medium brown coating (see photo).
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June 23, 2011

Country Oatmeal Rolls

by Jen

I love baking bread, but I get really upset when bread goes stale before we manage to eat it.  My solution?  Make the bread dough into rolls, bake some for tonight, and freeze the rest for the future!

The recipe is from a DK cookbook called Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.  It’s a book full of advice and beautiful helpful photographs.

Recipe Source: Ultimate Bread p. 74.


  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp honey


  • Sprinkle the yeast in 1/2 cup of the water.  Leave for 5 minutes.  Stir to dissolve.
  • Mix the flours, oatmeal, and salt in a bowl.  Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture, 3/4 cup additional water, and honey.  Mix, adding the final 1/4 cup water as needed, to form a stiff cohesive dough.
  • Move dough to floured surface and knead for 10-20 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Put dough in a bowl and cover with a damp dish towel.  Let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.  Remove dough and separate into 16 pieces.  Roll each piece into a worm and then tie the worm into a knot.
  • To bake:  Place rolls on a greased baking sheet and let proof for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.  Brush them with water and dust them with oatmeal.  Bake in an oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.
  • To freeze:  Place on a baking sheet and cover in plastic.  Place in the freezer for about an hour, then remove and place rolls into freezer bags.  To thaw and bake: Put rolls in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours until doubled in size.  Remove from refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Bake as above.
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June 22, 2011

Pasta Salad with Artichokes, Lemon, and Mint

by Alexa

I was feeling inspired by attending the Greek Festival in Central Square last weekend, so I came up with this vaguely Mediterranean pasta salad, full of artichokes, lemon, mint and feta.  I think it came out pretty well–it tasted very fresh and summery.

Ingredients I used:

  • approx. 6 oz pasta, cooked al dente (I used tricolor “Vegetable Radiatore” from Trader Joes)
  • 1 lb (I think…I threw the package away) sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 1/2 lb green peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (14 oz)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
  • approx. 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • dried oregano
  • few tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • tablespoon or so of honey
  • salt
  • balsamic vinegar

What I Did:

  • My first step was to quickly blanch the snap peas–I tossed the pods in a pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, then scooped them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl of ice water to cool off. I cooked the green peas the same way.
  • Next, I cooked the pasta right in the same water.  More vitamins that way, right?
  • I heated a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, and sauteed the garlic until it was fragrant.  I threw in maybe 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and sauteed a minute or so longer.  Then I removed the pan from the heat, and added the lemon juice.
  • When it was ready, I drained the pasta and tossed it with the lemon/garlic dressing, as well as the crumbled feta.
  • I added the mint, snap peas, chickpeas, and artichoke hearts and tossed some more.

I had intended to end the recipe there, but when I tasted it, I decided I wanted something a little creamier and tangier.  So I combined about 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, maybe a tablespoon of honey, and a bit of salt and whisked it into a little extra dressing.  I think it was a nice touch.

I think this was a good basic method for a pasta salad, and I am sure all the vegetables could be easily substituted for others.  If I made it again, I would consider adding more mint and more lemon.  I also think that capers could be nice, or even some canned tuna, if you felt like taking it in that direction…

June 20, 2011

Herb Salad

by Jen

On Sunday afternoon, I made this delicious salad of corn, lettuce, green beans, and herbs  as a contribution to the Father’s Day dinner of steak, potato salad, and swiss chard, prepared for Alexa’s father and eaten outside.  I used chives and mint (instead of cilantro) lifted from Alexa’s mother’s garden.

The dressing is made of mashed garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and avocado, pureed together using the hand blender Jaime and Ravi got Alexa for her birthday.  I thought the dressing was so tasty that I used all of it, yielding a more “potato salad” than “green salad” feel, but I think you could dress it much less and it would be good.  Though maybe not quite as good…

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