Tofu & Haricots Verts Stir-Fry with Moroheiya Noodles

Sometimes I just want to eat something vegetarian, gentle, and clean. Tofu and haricots verts is always a good place to start. I also found these fabulous moroheiya noodles at Whole Foods. (Moroheiya is a leafy green vegetable that's considered a superfood because of its rich levels of vitamins, minerals and fiber.) Unlike ramen noodles, they contain no fat, sugar, or cholesterol. These noodles take no time to cook and have an addictive chewiness to them. Definitely a pantry staple. The other brilliant ingredient I discovered is The Ginger People's Organic Ginger Juice, which is a time-saver if you want the essence of ginger without peeling and grating it. (Also great in tea!)


Serves 1

1/2 block of tofu, sliced then cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
A handful of haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks of scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of organic ginger juice or freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
1 block of moroheiya noodles
A small bundle of fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

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1. Fill a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and blanch the haricots verts for 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

2. Fill the same saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and cook the moroheiya noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 

3. In a small bowl, combine the the tamari/soy sauce, ginger juice/grated ginger, and sesame oil. Set aside.

4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a slick of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and stir with a wooden spatula until fragrant. Then, add the tofu. Let it get golden for a minute or two before stirring. Repeat until the tofu has an overall golden hue. Next, add the haricot verts and scallions. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the tamari-ginger mixture evenly over the contents of the pan and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste, 

5. Turn off the heat. Using tongs, drop in the moroheiya noodles and toss to combine. Place in your bowl and garnish with fresh chives. 

Sautéed Clams with Fennel & Cannellini Beans

I got this recipe from Bon Appétit and took the liberty of renaming it as: Sautéed Clams with Fennel & Cannellini Beans. It was originally called "Clams in White Bean Sauce." But the cannellini beans are sautéed with the clams, so it's not really a "sauce," per se. And the presence of fennel is definitely pronounced, which I feel deserves recognition. What can I say, I'm a stickler for accuracy. Anyway, the reason why I'm posting it is because it's one of those easy, elegant dishes that you can easily whip up for a weeknight–or date night–dinner. Definitely worth sharing.

*Half of the fennel is finely chopped and sautéed with the beans; the other half is thinly sliced and made into a salad to garnish the dish. I took the pic before garnishing, hence, no fennel in my pic.


Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or other medium white beans, rinsed
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 fennel bulb
3 garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1 lemon
Handful of parsley leaves
36 littleneck or Manila clams, scrubbed
4 thick slices country-style bread, toasted

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1. Toss beans in a medium bowl with a drizzle of oil; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Halve fennel and remove fronds (don’t toss the fronds!). Thinly slice one half of fennel and transfer to a medium bowl along with fronds. Place a damp paper towel directly on fennel to help prevent browning and set aside. Finely chop remaining half of fennel, then thinly slice garlic.

3. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Add chopped fennel, garlic, and rosemary sprig and cook, stirring often, until fennel is translucent and tender but still has some bite, about 5 minutes.

4. While that’s happening, remove 2 wide strips of zest from lemon with a vegetable peeler. Halve lemon and pick out seeds. Coarsely chop parsley.

5. Add clams and lemon zest to pot, squeeze in juice from a lemon half, cover pot, and cook until some clams start to open, 5–7 minutes. Toss and stir clams; use a slotted spoon to transfer any open ones to a medium bowl. Cover pot and cook until remaining clams open, checking sporadically and transferring them to bowl as they are done, 7–9 minutes; discard any clams that don’t open. Add reserved seasoned beans to pot and stir to combine; loosen sauce with water if it looks too tight. Return clams to pot, add half of parsley, and toss well.

6. Add remaining parsley to bowl with reserved sliced fennel and squeeze remaining lemon half over. Season fennel-herb salad with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Drizzle with a very small amount of oil and toss again.

7. Serve clams topped with salad and toasted bread for dipping into sauce.

*A @singlegirldin tip: Try sprinkling some aleppo pepper on top!

Grilled Whole Mackerel with Ginger-Scallion Sauce

I like to tag along with my friend Bill when he goes about his Sunday routine, which always includes a trip to the Hollywood Farmers' Market, a wine tasting at Domaine, and a visit to Cape Seafood and Provisions. My favorite part of the day is when we go to Cape Seafood because of the element of surprise that's involved–we never know what we'll come out with or what we'll do with it. As a creature of habit, it's especially fun to go with Bill because he has a knack for coming up with the most spontaneous and creative ideas. In the past, we've made paella, halibut marinara, grilled squid salad, and gambas a la plancha, for example

Last Sunday, we did our brainstorming aloud as we perused the shimmering wild-caught gems behind the glass case, but couldn't agree on the Dover sole or Atlantic cod. What to do, what to do...

"How about mackerel?" Bill suggested.

Mackerel? Mackerel is such a strong-tasting, oily fish. Unlike milder, white-fleshed fish–or tuna and salmon–mackerel was an unlikely choice, to be sure, but I was intrigued. What could we possibly do with it, I wondered. 

"We could grill it..." he said, trailing off with raised eyebrows.

Hmm... Asian cuisine... Japanese! Chinese! It was starting to come to me. We could incorporate stronger flavors that can stand up to the mackerel's pronounced flavor... Like ginger... And garlic!

"Yes!" I said excitedly. "We could make a ginger-scallion sauce! And rice! It's gonna be perfect!"

This dinner took us no time to pull together. In fact, the thing that took the longest to cook was the rice. If rice is the most difficult part of your meal, you know that you're good to go. 


1 whole mackerel, preferably wild-caught, scaled and gutted
1 cup of uncooked jasmine or basmati rice
1 small knob of fresh ginger, approximately 1.5 inches long, peeled
2 stalks of scallions
1 clove of garlic, peeled
Soy sauce, to taste
Sherry or rice vinegar, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grapeseed oil or another neutral oil (if you only have olive oil, that's fine)

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1. Cook rice according to instructions. (Bill adds a pat of butter to his.)

2. Preheat your BBQ grill.

3. Finely mince ginger, scallions, and garlic by hand or in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl. 

4. Start by adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt at a time to the chopped aromatics and incorporate evenly. Stir and taste. It should taste salty. 

5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl–except for the oil–starting with 1/2 teaspoon each. Then, slowly pour the oil into the bowl until it just covers the ingredients. Stir to incorporate evenly. Season to taste and set aside.

6. Cut a few deep slits into both sides of the fish. Mackerel is already very oily, but feel free to lightly coat it evenly with oil to prevent it from sticking to the grill. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 

7. Grill the fish for 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. The skin should start to char and crisp up. Be careful not to overcook as mackerel has a tendency to dry out.

8. Serve with cooked rice and ginger-scallion sauce on the side. (The ginger-scallion sauce is tasty on both the fish and the rice.)

 

A Dish For Every Man's Cooking Repertoire

GQ: Is there a dish you think every guy should know how to cook for a woman?

Elizabeth Gilbert: I think that if you can roast a chicken, you can get whatever you want out of a woman. Maybe it's just me but I would suspect that a man trying to impress a woman would be more likely to bring out the steak–"I killed this for you, now I'm grilling it for you." Which is just going to remind her of her dad in a bad way. Or he's going to try and go full Food Network, which just makes you think that if you have sex, he's going to be performing other stuff that he saw on TV, as well. [Laughs] A man that can cook you a proper meal that is like a weekday meal–which I think cannot be better than in the form of a roast chicken–that's the greatest.


It's quite simple, really. All you have to do is pat a whole chicken completely dry, inside and out. Rub with dry seasonings of choice–and freshly chopped garlic, if you please. Truss the chicken with twine. Set it on a baking pan and bake at 450F for an hour or until the juices run clear.

On Omelettes

Not quite perfect.

I make a decently good omelette, but it's a skill that I've only recently acquired. With the bounty of eggs from our chickens, I've gone through the whole gamut of egg preparations: scrambled, fried, coddled, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, poached... I shied away from omelettes because it's the litmus test for chefs. Real chefs. I'm just a lowly home cook. Believe me, despite seeming simple, it's very easy to screw up an omelette.

According to André Soltner, the chef behind the famed but now-closed restaurant Lutèce, an omelette should take no more than two minutes to prepare and has to be shaped like a cigar. The final result should be smooth–no browned spots–and baveuse on the inside, meaning "soft but not runny." It's all about technique and heart, which is why it's the mark of a great chef. 

My omelettes, on the other hand, are shaped like a tortilla that's been folded over and I'm pretty sure that it takes me longer than two minutes to make. I should practice his technique and also learn how to expertly tap the omelette out of the pan and onto a plate as he does. That'll give the whole show some more flair. I learned how to make mine from watching a Jamie Oliver video on YouTube. Unlike Monsieur Soltner, Jamie has a casual, loosey-goosey approach and says that a tiny bit of color is O.K. (I personally don't mind it being a touch browned here and there.)

In one of my favorite films Frances Ha, there's a scene where Frances is in the kitchen and she says to her roomie something like: "I made an omelette, but it turned out to be more of a scramble." Thankfully, those days are behind me–and for Frances too. Later in the film, she masters a late-night omelette for a group of hungry friends.