Ok, it's the first day of June, and you are going to ask yourselves why I'm devoting a whole post right now to what seem like colder weather foods. True, Syracuse has been basking in 80-degree temperatures for the last week or so, but we had chilly days and nights right into late May. So, as a way of exorcising the cold weather once and for all, I hereby bring you our last batch of cold-weather foods, and promise nothing but fresh summery goodness from here on in!
One day, a couple of weeks ago, Daiku got a sudden spaghetti carbonara craving. For those not familiar with the dish, it's what you would find illustrated in a dictionary were you to look up the phrase "heart attack on a platter"- spaghetti tossed with a sauce of cream, eggs, bacon, cheese, and butter. Daiku, however, veganized it admirably with a secret weapon:
Smoked tofu! By sauteeing small pieces of smoked tofu in olive oil until they were crisp, he achieved the flavor and texture that bacon would regularly bring to the dish. The dish was finished off with onions and garlic, soy cream and peas. The result was spectacular- a hint of sweet offset the smoky chewy tofu perfectly. And, we didn't gain 56 lbs. just by eating dinner.
A little smoked tofu goes a long way, and since smoking preserves it, it lasts a long time in the fridge. A few days after the carbonara, split pea soup was on the menu. Again, the dish started off with a little smoked tofu sauteed in our pressure cooker pot until it was crispy, and had imparted its aroma. Next were added carrots and onions, bay leaves and other spices, all deglazed with a little white wine. Next went in a bag of green split peas and some veggie broth, and the pressure cooker was turned on. In less than 10 minutes, we had the world's thickest, richest split pea soup. The house smelled like a log cabin - a very woodsy aroma.
Next to the split peas were Amey's english muffins. I was so excited when she posted a recipe for english muffins a few months back, and I never realized that they could be so fun and easy to bake. (And they freeze well, too!) Look at those nooks and crannies I made all by myself. These english muffins were made with about 3/4 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/4 white bread flour, and they were marvelous.
Finally, we have vegan ham and beans. Another simple, nutritious, and stick-to-your-ribs dish with very little fuss but a lot of flavor. This time, the ingredients that went into the pressure cooker were smoked tofu, onions, bay leaves, and rosemary. The pre-soaked navy beans were cooked in a veggie broth, and the whole thing was done again in under 10 minutes. (Can I just tell you how much I adore my pressure cooker? It makes cooking beans a quick task. In the 6 months since I've had it, I've learned how to adjust flavorings and time so that the beans come out perfect every time. And, for the first time, I can make palatable garbanzo beans at home, when I used to think that only the ones from a can were any good. This pressure cooker cost under $20 and is one of the most useful kitchen gadgets I can think of.)
To go with the ham and beans, some skillet cornbread:
Coming out of the oven
Cut into a wedge, so you can see the corn and charbroiled poblano pepper chunks.
This fluffy, spicy and sweet cornbread, some kale sauteed with garlic and red pepper, and smoky ham and beans. What more could you ask for on a cold May night?
Oh yeah, a warm May night!
P.S. The little block of smoked tofu we bought at the Asian grocery store was made in Long Island City, the neighborhood in Queens where I used to live! And, it's not all gone yet- watch out for it to be making its final appearance in a batch of jambalaya, coming soon...