Salt and Pepper Tofu – Two Ways – sort of…

These two dishes are essentially the same – just subtly different. Both are salt and pepper tofu, just the accompaniments differ. But why so much tofu?!

Even before lockdown we planned all our meals at least a week in advance. We had bought three packs of tofu to cook meals from the ‘itsu 20 minute cookbook’ – my favourite of the ‘really really quick’ meals books I own.

Due to skipping a couple of meals and the ‘leg of lamb that lasted 4 days’ saga we skipped the tofu meals in favour of food that was closer to expiry. Obviously you can’t do this forever – tofu has a lifespan too – and we ended up with out of date tofu!

Whilst watching Australian Masterchef Season 12 (it’s on – watch it – it is sooooo good) one of the competitors made a tofu dish where they served it cold, pressed, uncooked, raw basically. I wasn’t impressed – so I decided to come up with something myself.

All I have done here is press the tofu for an hour, toss it in white pepper, sea salt and cornflour and fried it until a little bit crispy. Using white pepper allows for a more subtle peppery flavour – black pepper can be overpowering if you use too much!

The one on the left is fried in left over pork fat (from a dish I made the other day) and the one on the left if fried in olive oil. The pork fat one was much more crispy – but obviously far less vegetarian.

The one on the left has pickled red onion (slice and leave in white wine vinegar), sushi rice, steamed broccoli, cucumber and red chilli – and a little herby sauce (left over from another meal).

The one of the right is just boiled new potatoes, hard boiled egg, cucumber, radishes, braised red cabbage, more pickled red onion – and a Satay sauce from the Gado Gado recipe from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. The meal is almost the Gado Gado recipe but it is supposed to have green beans, bean sprouts, croutons and crispy onions – which I didn’t have to hand. I will try it again when I next plan some meals. The addition of the crunchy stuff will definitely make this a better meal.

The Satay sauce took forever to make – and I’ll talk about this another time. Suffice to say it took at least 90 minutes to make, is very very nice – and was more spicy than I expected.

One more pack of tofu left! Let us see what we are having later today!

Green Mimosa Salad

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Brrrr…. it was chilly last night – and again this morning.

Living on a boat comes with its own share of fears. Sinking – obviously is the big one. But at this time of year flooding is another. You only have to watch the London Boaters forums to spot boats capsizing; boats becoming untied from their moorings and boat owners suffering thousands of pounds of damage due to the weather.

On Tuesday we had to have all our ropes loosened for fear of the boat being pulled over by the extraordinary rising tides. Yesterday, in response to the very high tides on the Thames, the Thames barrier was raised and the risk of flooding to areas of London was removed. For us. No damage and no issues. Phew!

Pleased that I’d come home to a safe boat I got the stove going, and set to making this very simple yet unusual dish for our dinner last night.

A traditional mimosa salad is a layered salad with a grated egg yolk base. This isn’t that. This really is quite different – much like the Quinoa risotto isn’t really a risotto!

Taken from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook – this recipe uses the dressing that is usually made with the mimosa salad and dresses tenderstem broccoli and asparagus instead. The eggs are kept separate and don’t see the dressing until you eat it!

The dressing is simply a Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard and a finely chopped shallot, seasoned well. To this you add your lightly steamed broccoli and asparagus – and then some thickly sliced avocado.

Meanwhile, some hard boiled eggs are grated, seasoned, and mixed with creme fraiche and lemon zest. You can then either stir in some chopped dill – or keep it separate like I did.

There’s nothing else to this dish. It is very simple and very tasty. It’s visually very pleasing too.

Make sure it is seasoned well or it is in danger of being a bit bland. If you don’t have tasty enough avocados (they can be a bit tasteless this time of year) squeeze half a lemon over them to pep them up a bit.

I loved it – but didn’t feel as full up as I have from other meals. Maybe I was just cold. It was very cold last night!

This week has been a week of very simple dishes. This was done in less than 30 minutes. Tomorrow I have more time so I plan on spending a bit more time in the kitchen. I’ll be making the last three dishes I’ve chosen from Anna Jones’s book and then I’ll move onto something different.

Smoky Beans and Sweet Potato Hash Browns

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This dinner was a game of two halves. The beans – awesome; the fritters – not so good.

This recipe is taken from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook, and was one of those where I kind of figured what the result would be before I made it. In fairness even the author doesn’t sing its praises; simply saying ‘a good quick dinner’ – I should have known better!

On one side we had a homemade take on baked beans, only so much better than what you get in a tin – while on the other side we had hash browns which ended up being more like mini frittatas.

A lot of recipes substitute potato for sweet potato and hope it will work. Unfortunately it doesn’t work here. The sweet potato is flavoured only with a small amount of cumin seeds and is bound together with egg. It didn’t take a lot of working out to realise these patties were going to be eggy and generally lacking in taste. For me they were a bit of a fail.

I’ve made fritters with sweet potatoes before and they have been better because the potato has been roasted first and the flavours have been developed by adding spring onion or soy sauce. Blitzing the roasted veg with other ingredients and then forming the patties seems more successful. These raw ones are disappointing. You can’t really get enough flavour into them, they don’t tend to keep their shape unless you are very careful with them and they tend to lose their integrity as you eat them.

Perhaps a pinch of chilli flakes would have woken them up a bit. I might try that some other time.

The beans on the other hand were excellent. Having fried a shallot with some smoked paprika and adding some really tasty cherry tomatoes you add cannellini beans, a little thyme and a dash of balsamic vinegar. These are super tasty and would be a great side. I could see myself whipping up a big batch of these and having them with burgers and fries or something like that.

Not such a successful dinner – but very healthy and a great bean discovery.

 

 

Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa and Tomato Sauce & Coriander

Baked Eggs with Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander

Another amazing dish from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. We had this before we went to Morocco; part of a week where we thought we’d try out the types of food we were likely to eat while we were on holiday. Sadly stuff like this was nowhere to be found.

It’s an incredibly tasty dish and, although it is supposedly what people eat for breakfast, it was a main meal for us. I should knock one of these up the morning before our next Monopoly Board Pub Crawl (we are well over half way !).

Our local Syrian supermarket has fresh feta. Its far superior to the stuff you get in packets, much smoother and it matures if you keep it a couple of days. We buy it a lot and it often ends up in this recipe (as well as the pistachio dip) – I’ve made them both many times.

It’s very simple to make but does take a while if you want your sauce to be rich and your eggs well baked.

The sauce isn’t unlike most tomato based curry sauces. You fry some red onions, add lots of garlic, stir in turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and then the harissa paste. Once the onions are well coated add both tinned and fresh tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Very simple.

Pour this sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and break chunks of feta into the sauce, and stir in lots of coriander.

Then make four wells in the sauce, crack eggs into the wells, season with pepper and bake in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

I like recipes like this because you don’t have to paw over them for ages. It can be a one pot creation if you start your sauce in the right dish. First time round I doubled my washing up by not planning properly.

The recipe recommends eating this with flatbreads, which we did. Mopping up that awesome tomato sauce was very satisfying.