I think I am excited about Autumn, since I was cooking a lot last week… but I’m still loving to cook with the available Summer produce. *shrug* who knows. It was tasty.
I cracked open the 1 pound (*cough* 14 ounces *cough*) package of tofu. Two of the blocks went in to marinate for my standard spicy tofu recipe (and are still marinating, so that should be exciting…), and the other half went to marinate for this Martha Stewart recipe for Sauteed Tofu with Bitter Greens.
So I did up the marinade according to the recipe (only cut for less tofu and longer time):
- 1 teaspoon real soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek
- 1/2 lime, freshly squeezed
- a chunk of ginger, finely minced
And then I was on the phone with Meghan to help me pick out which of the prepped dinners I had available I should eat. And when I was describing this meal, it was a honey and soy sauce kinda thing. And then it wasn’t. But we both agreed that it really ought to have honey.
And she suggested corn starch because she says it fries up crispier and colors better with corn starch. Not having a comparison, I don’t know – but it sure was both gorgeous and tasty with the addition (because I trust the women completely when it comes to food).
So – I dropped 1 tsp of this lovely buckwheat honey I have into the marinade and shook it all up. And let me tell you – I’d been wondering what to do with such a dark, strongly-flavored honey, but one smell and this marinade and this honey were meant to have lots of hot sex together. I restrained myself to only one spoonful of it all raw.
And then I poured off the marinade and added more honey directly because it wasn’t sticky at all.
And then I put 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into the sticky tofu and shook it up. (We’d discussed the merits of dredging the tofu in cornstarch, but in the end I decided I was too lazy to wash an extra dish.)
Lay out a single layer of tofu in a pan with a teaspoon of oil… decide that really two teaspoons is a minimum for the oil here. And let brown. Flip. Let more brown. Guh. Because this is gorgeous – did I mention? So set them aside on a plate.
And I had some baby bok choi (well, more like teenage bok choi – 5-6″ and green all the way from tip to base) so I just washed them, shook them out, and then cut across into very rough strips about 1″ thick (and kept the very bottoms for my bag of bits for stock). That went into the same pan I’d cooked the tofu in.
And then I poured over the rest of the marinade.
I plated it up with the tofu, the greens, and a bit of short-grain white rice.
It was very very tasty, but I think the ginger ended up a little too strong – perhaps because it had longer to marinate that the recipe suggested.
And I finally made Muhammara, but I might have been led astray my westernized recipes.
So I printed it out and I took it home to put into my binder of recipes. And I did a bit of trimming of things (admitting that I will never be a great baker) and reorganizing of things (soups. then salads. then things that might be salads or might be side vegetables. side vegetables. vegetarian meals. vegetarian meals whose main bulk is beans. meals whose main bulk is tofu. meat. and then somehow I have a miscellaneous pasta dish (some vegetarians, some not) after the meats… you get the idea) I found that I already had a recipe for Muhammara (no, I can not find the link now without the paper right in front of me).
And I also had a recipe for a pomegranate & walnut spread.
Clearly, this is something I have been wanting to make for a while.
So I bought 6 large, juicy red peppers and roasted them. (and then realized that the recipe didn’t call for that many, but now I have a fridge full of tasty roast peppers) I also bought a tube of 5 heads of garlic and decided to roast them all, too, while I had the oven on anyway.
I pulled my bag of walnuts (from back when I was stuffing them in dates at the drop of a hat… no, the kind of dates that are a fried fruit/berry) out of the freezer and thawed a cup and 2/3rds.
So. my refrigerator is now its own country of abundance right there. It is so stuffed, that I had to give my new neighbor a half gallon of homemade hard cider so that I could get the door to close.
But I get ahead of myself.
In batches, toast walnuts on the stove. (I once tried to toast pecans in the oven… at 4am, just for the record… and there was no watching and hovering over them, so I swear that two second later there was a smoke alarm going off. Yeah, that was a good morning. So now I always toast nuts on the stovetop even though I secretly suspect that the innards get warmer and sexier when you do them in the oven. But no matter – because this way they get toasted only to a point where I can actually eat them.)
And then, because one of the recipes suggested it would be a good idea, I pounded the toasted walnuts in a mortar. Yes, I do have a wee tiny food processor, but I had not yet seen this Muhammara video to show me the perfect consistency and I am not used to having one available. Also, again with the liking to watch over the food.
I’ve been having a houseguest, and she asked, “So is there anything I can do to be helpful?” So I promptly told her to take over the toasting and pounding processes.
The same recipe (not the toomuchgarlic.com one) had suggested then grinding the roasted red peppers in the mortar – I, however, (because there was company) was wearing clothes. So I put the nuts into a separate bowl and then sliced three or so roasted red peppers (I find it hard to piece together whole peppers to know how many your are using when you are pulling them out of the container the next day) thinly against the grain and dumped them into the bowl, too.
Dump 1/3c. breadcrumbs into the bowl.
Add 1/4 c. Pomegranate molasses. Or you can make your own by boiling down 3 parts pomegranate juice to 1 part sugar. Me, I had bought some pomegranate concentrate from the halal down the street some months ago, and I was going to use that… with glee! Because concentrated pomegranate! I’d been looking for a use for that for months.
And then (possibly because I had decided my primary recipe source was going to be toomuchgarlic.com), I was supposed to add 12-16 cloves of garlic. The other recipe didn’t call for any. So I said to myself, “Wasn’t it clever of you to have roasted all that lovely garlic?” So I added 2 heads worth of roasted garlic (let’s call that 20 cloves). Plus 1 clove of raw garlic. And I kept her additional 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
As I stirred it all together, I tried to mash between the tines of my fork the red pepper and the garlic cloves to make a more even paste.
Add pinch of salt, 1 tsp cumin, and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
And then I started playing.
Because the other recipe had included some birds eye peppers, I added a wee tiny pinch of chipotle pepper (I wasn’t too experimental with this because I was going to be trying to pass off some of this on my friends, and they have different standards of spiciness than I do).
Because my pomegranate concentrate didn’t have any sugar added at all, I gave it a pinch of sugar and then tasted it. And then I added a spoonful of buckwheat honey. I think this would have been just as good without sugar if we hadn’t added the lemon juice, either. So I went back and looked at the other recipes – no lemon juice in any of the others. Buggery.
So I think that, while tasty, this isn’t the conclusive version of Muhammara.
Oh, and then for my friends I also added the recipe’s amount of olive oil.
I think I should have done more research (since I found so much more while looking for that other recipe I printed out some time in the distant past). For other recipes, see:
The Washington Post, using tomato paste and suggesting that Aleppo peppers would make it more authentic.
The Perfect Pantry also believes in Aleppo pepper – and they have the order from Penzey’s to prove it
Unrequited Thai uses nuts other than walnuts to make this dip for a vegan passover.
Pikelet and Pie makes an (unorthdox) muhammara that swaps out balsamic vinegar for the pomegranate
Actually, I think I’m liking the simplicity of this recipe at Closet Cooking the best. Next time I try this dip, I’ll start here.