Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010

Basil Eggplant Tofu Stir Fry – Take II

i’ve forgotten how complicated making chinese food is.

due to the limitations of Juanfi’s kitchen, i traded my usual stir fry dinners this summer for western fare. less grease and smoke produced, and much less counter/prep space needed.

just to ease my way back in to chinese cooking, i re-attempted one of my previous creations:


  1. 1 large eggplant
  2. 1 pack firm tofu
  3. 1/2 large bell pepper (1/4 red + 1/4 yellow = pretty dish)
  4. 3 tbs minced garlic
  5. hoisen sauce
  6. soy sauce
  7. 1 tbs garlic chili sauce
  8. sesame oil
  9. regular cooking oil (lower smoking point. use this for frying.)
  10. large batch of basil leaves
  11. chicken stock


  1. drain and halve tofu block to 2 flat rectangles. press between paper towels, 2 on top and 2 on bottom. drained tofu soaks up marinade like a SPONGE, so says alton brown. (this really worked!)
  2. marinade in soy sauce, garlic, whatever pleases you. set aside.
  3. chop eggplant into same size squares as tofu.
  4. mince garlic.
  5. de-stem basil


  1. heat wok/large non-stick pan ’til smokin’ hot. add lots of vegetable oil. fry tofu until browned.
  2. remove tofu and set on paper towel lined rack to drain. drain pan of most of the oil, leaving only enough oil to stir fry the rest of the ingredients.
  3. heat pan again. add minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
  4. dump in eggplant, stir a few times, pour in half a cup or so of chicken stock (just enough to cover bottom of the pan) and cover for a few minutes until eggplant is soft.
  5. remove cover and add bell peppers (i dont like my bell peppers soggy so i add them at the end)
  6. squeeze in hoisen sauce (in circular motion around pan, 3x), and 1 tbs chili sauce. 1 tbs sesame oil, stir to distribute.
  7. add basil, stir fry until liquid is absorbed and basil looks cooked. (add more chicken stock if too dry and basil not cooking)
  8. serve.
August 17, 2010

Cinnamon Cumin Lamb Meatballs topped with Lemon Mint Yogurt. Served with Raisin and Pistachio Quinoa

tonight’s dinner was another get-rid-of-crap-in-fridge night. these little projects of mine have been turning out surprisingly well. i really should do this more often. ratio of quinoa to meatballs was pretty good. i had about 4 meatballs and the boy had 6. i found this to be a good portion size. he however, asked for leftover mashed potatoes after dinner. fine by me. they’ve been sitting in the fridge for a few days now anyway. (:

note: over salted the quinoa and under salted the meatballs. ): fine when eaten together. but in the future, after salting the onions to taste, add more salt to meat mixture and no more extra salt in the quinoa (even with low sodium chicken stock.)


for meatballs –

1/2 onion
1/2 lb ground lamb
2 -3 tbs breadcrumbs
2 tbs milk (or 1/2 egg)
salt and pepper

1 cup greek yogurt
2 tbs lemon zest
fresh mint leaves

for quinoa –

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 onion
3 tbs honey
golden raisins
pistachios, unsalted.


  1. chop 1 onion and saute, adding cumin, cinnamon, parsley, salt to taste.
  2. remove to cool.
  3. with hands, mix in 1/2 of onions with ground lamb. add milk and sprinkle in breadcrumbs slowly while mixing.  salt and pepper. set meat in fridge.


  1. heat pan. toast quinoa until it pops and sizzles.
  2. pour in liquid and sautéed onions. bring to a boil.
  3. reduce to low-med heat. add more cinnamon, honey, and raisins. simmer and stir ~20 min.
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. roll lamb mixture into 10 mini meatballs.
  3. line baking pan with foil, butter. space meatballs evenly and bake on 350 for ~ 15 min.
  4. in a small bowl, combine lemon zest, mint chiffonade, and yogurt.
  1. turn off heat on quinoa. stir in pistachios.
  2. serve and top with meatballs. spoon on yogurt generously. eat!
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August 14, 2010

Steamed Mussels in White Wine



  • 4 lb of mussels (blue bay or cultured)
  • butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 large roma tomato
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • parsley (dry for seasoning, fresh for garnish)
  • half and half (optional)
  • chicken stock (optional)
  • 2+ cups crisp white wine (sauvignon blanc. get big bottle. drink the rest.)


  1. clean mussels, pulling off beards, scrubbing surface, and submerge in icy water for 20+ min.
  2. mince shallots and garlic. set aside.
  3. chop tomatoes finely. set aside.
  4. chill wine glasses in freezer.


  1. Heat dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add a pat of butter or coconut oil. Saute shallots and garlic with plenty of salt.
  2. Add tomatoes and saute until soft.
  3. pour in wine and bring to a boil. (not much liquid is needed. volume will increase when mussels release their juices). Can add a bit of chicken stock here if you want it soupier. Optional.
  4. dump in mussels and cover. med heat, 3-5 min or until mussels open.
  5. remove from heat immediately. Taste broth and salt if needed.
  6. option 1: spoon out mussels only. remove 10 or so mussels from shell, add to liquid, puree to thicken.
  7. option 2: slowly add half and half to thicken sauce.
  8. plate and garnish with parsley. serve with crusty bread and drink the remainder of the sauvignon blanc.