Sunday, February 24, 2013

Soyrizo Tofu Tacos

I have made these tacos before, and it took me a complete hour, or near an hour, from prep to service. I decided to revise my recipe and try to make it a thirty minute meal.  Success!  However, this version is not as psych-out convincing, visually, as the original.  In my original recipe, I blended the tofu, garlic, spices, onions and chiles and then sauteed the mixture over medium heat until it looked like actual meat.  Sacrifices made for time, this recipe is faster and the flavors are still there.  Take a look at the starting line-up:

3 Mexican Green Onions, whites finely chopped (you can use the greens, too, but today, the greens seemed a little dried out, so I did not use them)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and separated
2 Serrano chiles, seeded, ribs removed and finely chopped or, two Fresno chiles, seeded, ribbed and finely chopped
1 fist full of fresh cilantro, finely chopped, separated
1 package Firm Tofu, chopped into very small cubes
2 packages Soy Chroizo (also known as Soyrizo, depending on the brand)
3 - 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle powder, or, 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
1 teaspoon ground coriander or crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder or crushed cumin seeds
salt and pepper

On your chopping block, finely chop the three Mexican Green Onions and the four garlic cloves.  Remove the tofu from its package, and Be Careful! They are full of fluid and it makes quite a mess if you are careful! Remove, place on a plate, hold the tofu and the plate between the palms of your hand (Clean Hands, please!) and press the remaining liquid out of the tofu.  I am sure there are better ways to do this, but I have not discovered it.  Any tips?  Chop the tofu into thin slabs, and then into corn kernel sized cubes.

Add half of the garlic to three tablespoons evoo to a large skillet.  Turn the heat to medium and allow the garlic to infuse the oil.  Once the garlic begins to sautee, turn the heat to high and add the onion, tofu and the rest of the garlic.  Sautee about three minutes over high heat, add salt and pepper to taste, then reduce the heat to medium.  Add the spices and mix thoroughly.  Sautee for another eight minutes.  Note:  You may need to add another tablespoon of evoo because the tofu soaks up the oil like a sponge.  However, you do not want the mixture too wet;  it should have a meat-like look and texture.  

When the mixture begins to form a crust around the edges, it is crusting on the bottom in places, too, so it is ready to serve!  
How to serve is up to you.  I placed a pinch of cheese to three green chile whole grain tortillas (sticking with the healthy theme), placed a spoon full of the mixture into each tortilla, topped with another pinch of cheese, and topped with cilantro.  I sprinkled a little Tobasco (TM)  Chipotle to the tacos.  


This is a healthy and flavorful meal! And best of all?  NO GUILT!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Welcome to another segment of......

What I Have Been Up To in the Kitchen Lately......

Hello, gentle readers!  It has been too long, and I have been busy in the kitchen, but sporadically.  I want to share with you, via photos, however, the recipes I have been working on.  Some have turned out great, and some need a little repairing.  Let's take a look!

As we all know, I am not much of a baker, but I have fallen for these mini brownie cupcakes which I dip in melted Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips with Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Raspberry Squares chopped up as toppers.  One word:  Yum!

Chicken Milanese with Fresh Vegetable and Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce.  This one is for a lazy weekend!  Warm, fun, delicious!

My Christmas Dinner (part of):  Christmas Tacos!  Braised and Pulled Pork Shoulder (Pibil), Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos, and, for my mom, plain old ground beef Tacos.  The Pork Shoulder Butt roast and the Beef Short Ribs were braised in Mexican beer, chicken stock, and homemade guajillo sauce.  

Mini Pizzettes with chocolate cream cheese spread (Philadelphia), fresh raspberries, with grated Hershey's milk chocolate bar.   One word:  DELISH!

Chicken Pakoras with a garlic sriracha dipping sauce.  Oh, sooo good!

Farfalle with Bacon Fresh Tomato Sauce topped with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Not my prettiest dish, but my Penne Bake with Linguica and Escarole is pretty healthy.  I have been on a tomato-based sauce made with all fresh ingredients as my New Year's Resolution.  This dish was no exception.  I also added fresh Fresno chiles and fresh basil. 

I love to cook with my cast iron skillet.  While I have a Beautiful pizza stone, courtesy of my dear friend and cooking partner in culinary crime, Maria, I decided to try making pizza in the cast iron skillet.  Quick, fun, easy.  This is my meatball pizza with fresh sauteed shallots, cheddar and jack cheese, and my special cheese topper, Oaxaca.  I am crazy about Oaxaca these days!

Made this on a whim.  Lamb chops marinated in evoo, finely chopped rosemary, lemon zest and lemon juice, and garlic.  I marinated them for an hour, then seared them in my cast iron skillet and finished them off in the oven.  Great taste, very tender!  

Rigatoni Bolognese.  Hearty, meaty, with fresh veggies and fresh herbs.  Perfect for a cold winter's day!

Spaghetti with fresh vegetables and herbs.  

As part of my New Year's Resolution, the above are my Soyrizo Tofu Tacos.  It takes a very long time to get just the right consistency, but well worth it.  I am gong to work on this one again tomorrow!  More to come!

Thank You for taking the time to view this segment of "What I've Been Up To Lately".  
Go and get creative in your kitchen!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Semi-Homemade Pork and Sage Ravioli

I believe I have mentioned once or twice that Italian food, other than my mom's tasty spaghetti, was not a part of our family menu as I grew up.  So I thought "I don't really like Italian food, except spaghetti".  But I was Very mistaken! As an adult, and now, an older adult, I have fallen in Love with Italian food, flavors, spices, and cheeses. So, as a novice, it is natural that I have wanted to make ravioli, one of the most fun foods to ever make.  

I had, originally, wanted to make my own dough and enjoy the processes of creating those delicious thin sheets of doughy goodness.  But time was a factor, so I went with the next best thing, store-bought spring roll wrappers.  I thought I had purchased small won ton wrappers, so when I discovered that I had purchased wrappers for the spring rolls, I cut them into fourths, which worked out great. 

Without further ado, here's my ravioli filling ingredients and "how-to".  

Starting Line-Up:

2-3 links of, or, a half pound of your favorite ground Italian sausage.  I used hot Italian sausage.  

2 cups of Ricotta cheese

6 - 10 fresh sage leaves, half of the leaves finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped or shredded

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano 

1/4 cup shaved pecorino romano 

Salt and Pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (evoo)

In a large skillet, add two tablespoons of evoo over medium-high heat.  If the sausages are links, cut open the links and add the ground sausage to the skillet as the oil ripples. Cook the sausage for three minutes until a golden crust begins to form. Add the onion and the garlic to the sausage, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the onions become translucent.  Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.  

Meanwhile, add four quarts of water to a large pot and set on the stove for future use.  

On a granite counter top, or clean chopping block, lay out the won ton wrappers.  If you are using spring roll wraps, using a sharp culinary knife, cut the dough sheets in to fourths, equally.  Lay out the sheets, as many as you can, and note:  you will have to do this in batches, as you will probably make about 70 ravioli.  Have a bowl of water nearby, as you will use the water to seal your ravioli tips together before boiling. 

By this time, the sausage, onion and garlic, should be cooled. Add all of it, including the ricotta, the parmigiano-reggiano and half of the sage leaves, to your food processor (or blender).  Puree the mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.  Remove the mixture to a bowl and set by your wrappers station.  

I used a teaspoon to add to each ravioli square. I used my index finger to rub water around the four corners, and I folded the sheets to meet corner-to- corner diagonally, so each ravioli forms a triangle.  (See below)


 Place each batch of ravioli on a baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator or even the freezer to set.  

Now, this step can be done well before you start the ravioli, or, while they are chilling, and that is a marinara sauce.  I actually made three sauces:  a tomato-based marinara, a brown butter sage sauce, and a roasted red pepper and basil sauce.  I used the other half of my original onion, finely chopped, another clove of garlic, finely chopped, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano diced tomatoes, a couple of leaves of basil, finely chopped, salt and pepper, two teaspoons of white champagne vinegar, and pureed it in my food processor. I then heated up a sauce pan with a table spoon of evoo, over medium-low heat, allowing the flavors to marry

For the red pepper sauce, I added a half cup of buttermilk (I use buttermilk as opposed to heavy cream, as I like the tangy bite of buttermilk) to two fully roasted long red, sweet bell peppers, a pinch of salt and pepper, one garlic clove, finely chopped, basil and sage leaves, both to my food processor. I pureed those ingredients and heated the sauce through, same as in the previous paragraph, in a tablespoon of evoo in a skillet over medium-low heat. 

For my brown butter sage sauce, I added two tablespoons of Tuscan Butter (found in your local neighborhood grocery store) over medium-high heat, added chopped sage leaves, a small clove of garlic, finely chopped, and allowed it to foam, then brown.  So good!

Now, time to get the ravioli show on the road!

Bring the water the large pot to a boil.   When the water boils, add a good palm of salt.  Add the chilled ravioli, one at a time.  You do not want to crowd them, as they may stick together.  The salt helps them to not stick together, but keep them moving.  You will want to stir, so the triangles of pork, cheesy goodness will not stick to the bottom of the pot, either.  They have built-in "done" signals, as they usually float to the top when they are done. This only takes about three or so minutes.  Remove carefully and allow to strain.  

Plate nearly immediately and add whichever sauce makes you happy, top with fresh chopped basil or sage, grate or shave some pecorino romano or parm to the top, and serve!

What can you do with those ravioli that did not seal correctlyYes, you may have that problem.  I set them aside, chilled them, and fried them in evoo and small sage leaves, which I did not wish to discard.  They're quite crispy and tasty fried!

 I hope you try these and enjoy!