tofu lettuce wraps

TofuLettuceWrapsFinal

Last night Boston Boy, Boston Sister, and I ate our weight in sushi and tots (that’s right sushi and tots under the same roof!) at Sticky Rice, one of our favorite H Street haunts. Sticky Rice has some of the most unique sushi rolls I’ve ever enjoyed – like the Godzirra (crunchy shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, spicy sauce, cucumbers + crunch) or the Drawn and Buttered (no big deal, just some lump crab sushi you dip in butter! that’s right…sushi dipped in butter. Big Daddy, take notes!) – but in spite of their cornucopia of creative rolls, one of my favorite of their dishes is their tofu lettuce wraps! Chunks of fried tofu mixed with a delicious soy ginger sauce with just the right amount of crisp from the lettuce and crunch from huge chunks of water chestnuts. Delish!

24 hours later and I was hungry for more, so I whipped up my own rendition of this veggie delight. For ease and health, I opted against frying my tofu (although, it would be delish! If you want to try these with fried tofu hunks, I recommend borrowing the frying method from our Soy Ginger Tofu with Bok Choy). Grab these ingredients and you’ll be crunching away on these tofu lettuce wraps in no time! Also…for anyone suffering from tofu-phobia, this dish is a great gateway!

tofulettucewrapsingredietns

1 pound extra firm tofu
5 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tbl ginger chopped (I love ginger, so if you’re less of a ginger nut you may want to reduce)
1 tbl lemon grass
1/2 chopped onion
2 tbl olive oil
1 package of mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 tbl hoisin
4 tbl soy
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
romaine lettuce hearts
garnishes: carrots, peanuts

Heat oil in a large saucepan and add onions, garlic, lemon grass, and ginger. Let cook for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and tender.

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While those are cooking, combine soy, hoisin, red pepper, and sesame oil to make your sauce.

IMG_1792Add your mushrooms.

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Cook for about 4 minutes before adding tofu and water chestnuts.

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Pour sauce over everything and mix to combine.

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Cook for another 5-7 minutes until everything’s thoroughly hot, combined, and saucy.

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Scoop heaps of your tofu mixture into romaine lettuce hearts. Garnish with your choice of toppings – I recommend carrots and peanuts!

xoxo,

Julia

Soy Ginger Tofu with Bok Choy

sweet&sour tofu

This is more exciting than you know! I’ve been a vegetarian for sneaking up on 4 years and this was my first successful attempt to cook tofu in such a way that it evoked the same “yum!-I-ordered-this-for-dinner-at-a-restaurant-and-I’m-extremely-satisfied” feeling. Huge win! The recipe couldn’t have been easier, either. Boston Boy & I hiked Great Falls Sunday and arrived home in desperate need of a quick & nourishing meal pre-movies (we saw Lincoln, and I don’t know that you need to rush to see it while it’s in theaters, but I definitely recommend it!). Did a quick dash to the grocery, cooked & ate it all in under an hour!

This Soy Ginger Tofu is great to keep in your wheelhouse for a simple, scrumptious din din!

bok choy sauce ingredients

For the Sauce:

1/4 c honey

1/4 c lemon juice

1/4 c soy sauce

2 tbl pickled ginger (fresh would of course be wonderful too, but this was a quick operation!)

1 heaping tbl garlic

1 1/2 tbl sriracha

Everything Else:

1 bunch of bok choy (thoroughly cleaned!)

1 package of firm/extra-firm tofu

1/3 c flour

pinch of salt

2 tbl canola oil

So, I recommend you start by situating your tofu. Slice your tofu into 1/2 an inch thick pieces and lay on a bed of paper towels. Lay more paper towels on top and perhaps even a cutting board on top of those paper towels. We want to remove as much liquid from the tofu as possible, as quickly as possible! While that’s being pressed/patted, start on your sauce. I recommend using one liquid measure and adding your honey, then lemon juice, then soy. Mix in your g&g & sriacha & let that rest.

Next (or meanwhile if you have a wonderful Boston Boy as your sous chef) clean and chop your bok choy (both the stalk and the leafy part) into bite-sized pieces.

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Finally, once your tofu has rested for a while, slice each piece 3 times so you have 1 by 2 inch rectangular pieces, then coat each piece in your flour/salt mixture. Now it’s time to cook these babies! Heat your oil in a large skillet. Once your oil is hot enough gently place your tofu (you should see itty bitty bubbles surround it) in the oil. Let the tofu fry for 3-4 minutes and then flip once the bottom is beginning to look golden brown. Cook the second side (it’ll cook a little more quickly than the first) until it’s also golden brown.


tofu_sweet&sour

I removed a good amount of the oil in my pan (I know we’re frying, but we’re health conscious when we can be!) and then added the bok choy. Start by adding the stalky, crunchy parts. Let those get off to a good start cooking & then pour in your sauce. Let it all start to simmer then add the leafy green parts of your bok choy.

Let it all jive together for 5-7 minutes (the stalky parts of your bok choy should be tender with a slight crisp), and then remove from heat. Serve on top of your favorite grain – I choose quinoa!

Give it a try, you’re going to love it! And…I promise, even for all you tofu skeptics. This is a great gateway tofu!

roasted red pepper & chickpea quinoa

red pepper & chickpea quinoa

This roasted red pepper & chickpea quinoa was a little bit of a whim, but ended up being a super simple and satisfying meal I ate throughout the week. Roasting both the red peppers and the chickpeas yielded hearty, wholesome flavors I couldn’t get enough of!

All you need is:

2 red peppers

1 large can of chickpeas

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

2 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt

roasted chickpeas

Start by prepping your chickpeas! Set your oven to 400. Rinse & drain your chickpeas and then lay them out to dry on paper towels, lay paper towels on top too to blot excess liquid. Wait 10 minutes or so until your chickpeas are dry-ish. Pour into a bowl and toss with olive oil & seasonings. Lay your chicks out on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. These roasted chickpeas make a great snack, salad topper, or mix in!

Roasted Red Peppers

While your chicks are baking start roasting your red peppers. My favorite trick for this is to pop my peppers directly on a gas burner. Cook & rotate them with a pair of tons ’til their skin is blackened & blistered and then remove from the heat. Pop ’em in brown paper bags to cool. Once they’ve cooled, run the peppers under cold water and remove the charred outer skin with either a paring knife or just your fingers. Remove the seeds and blot your peppers between paper towels. I finely chopped my peppers & they were the perfect quinoa fixing.

Finally, I used quinoa, but I think any grain would be great! Use two cups of broth for every cup of quinoa. Combine both & bring to a poil in a small pot. Once you’re boiling, put a lid on it, and wait until all the liquid is absorbed and you start to see the quinoa blossom (little white specks come out on each grain!). When your quinoa’s cooked, mix in your veggies and serve. Enjoy hot or cold, as lunch or dinner, alone or on a bed of greens.

 

Steamed Shiner Moules

DC has an abundance of awesome spots to belly up to the bar with a piping hot pot of moules, a side of sizzling frites, and a stein of your favorite Belgium beer; and little by little I’ve grown quite fond of these baby bivalves (Confession: this Hungry Texan spent a week in Belgium at age 19 and left without nomming a single mussel. She’s still beating herself up for not tasting the beloved dish in its motherland). Until today when I had a craving and promptly started researching how to make them myself, I had two wrong assumptions about mussels. I wrongly assumed steaming mussels was a labor of love, I imagined hours and hours of a slow simmering pot of broth until little by little the shells started peeping open. Turns out the shells pop open in a flash and you can have ’em ready in five minutes flat! Wrong assumption #2 was that mussels were really expensive. ¡Au contraire mon frere! I got a two pound bag at Central Market (the finest grocery store) for $8.99 & that happily fed Baby Bro, Mommy Cat and me.

Misconceptions corrected, I read a little bit about making moules in Saveur and then concocted my own Texas-twist on the Belgium classic. The only thing standing between you and your own bowl of steamed moules is 9 ingredients and +/- 20 minutes!

2 lbs mussels (mine were already cleaned & debearded!)

2 stalks of celery finely chopped

1/2 c chopped onion

3 cloves of chopped garlic

the white part of 3 green onions

2/3 cup of Shiner Cheer (’tis the season!) or your favorite wheat beer

4 tbl butter

s&p

This recipe couldn’t be simpler. 5 easy steps. 1. Prep all your veggies & give your mussels a good rinse. 2. Get a large pot with a good fitting lid, place it on the stove and set your heat on high. 3. Melt your butter in the pot & then dump everything in. Add s&p and give it all a good stir, then put your lid back on. 4. Set a timer for 5 minutes and periodically give the pot a good shake. 5. Turn off the heat once you’ve reached 5 minutes or the majority of your shells have popped open.

Scoop your moules into bowls and ladle on your broth (don’t forget a bowl for discarded shells!). Serve with your favorite crusty bread and/or frites & mayo if you’re feeling fancy!

 

Mimi’s cranberry relish

The irony of this cranberry relish (and many, many things I’ve now come to love)  is it disgusted me for the first 15 years or so of my life. Thanksgiving dinner for this HungryTexan meant the blandest of plates. Turkey, mashed taters, dinner rolls. What about the dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes and cranberry relish? Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! and extra Yuck! so thought the tastebuds of a tinier Texan. Little by little my tastebuds matured and I learned the wonders of a more colorful Thanksgiving plate. I warmed to the cranberry relish last, but it’s since become one of my all time faves and it couldn’t be simpler.

Seriously, yall.Once you know how simple this homemade delight is, you better not even think about carving open a can of store-bought gelatinous cranberry goop! All you’ll need is:

1 bag of cranberries

1 apple (I used honeycrisp)

1 orange

1/2 c sugar

Slice your apples & oranges (keep the skin on!) and remove the seeds. I’d cut ’em a tiny bit smaller than the slices pictured above. Dump your cranberries, apples, and oranges into your food processor until all your fruits are pulverized. Then add your 1/2 cup of sugar and process it all together. You’ll be (cran)berry, berry happy you spent the 15 minutes to whip up this classy condiment for any Thanksgiving spread. It’s the perfect pop of color for any plate & a sweet-tart pop of flavor for your palette. Also, make this a few days in advance — it only gets better with age!