Winter Peach Cobbler for Two (using canned peaches)

Thanks to my friend who gave me a can of home-canned lavender vanilla peaches!  I pulled them out tonight and made a cobbler with them-- great way to enjoy a taste of summer in the dark days of winter.  Since this is such a small amount, and the canning process already softens the peaches, this comes together fast!

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Open 1 pint jar of canned peaches. Pour into 5x5 inch pyrex pan, chop up peaches a little to be bite-sized if needed.

Prep the biscuit topping by mixing together:
1/2 C + 1/3 C whole wheat white flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 C buttermilk
up to 2 TB water to combine if needed

Spread the dough over the top of the peaches.  Spoon 1-1.5 TB large crystal sugar/turbinado over the top.

Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes, or however long it takes to become golden brown on top and bubbling on the bottom.

Eat hot (or reheat).

Winter Salad: Arugula, Gorgonzola, Bacon, Pomegranate

This hit the spot for a winter salad! It's a bold combination of bitter, salty, sour and sweet.


Toss baby arugula and other greens with a vinaigrette (white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt).

Arrange on plates with:
toasted chopped walnuts
crumbled gorgonzola (my favorite is "Oregonzola"!)
bacon (I buy "odds and ends" for a fraction of the price- it's getting chopped up anyway)
pomegranate seeds

Secret of making chewy meat-like tofu

I"ve written about the secrets of preparing good tofu before. This simple procedure makes tofu crave-worthy. And it means you don't get stuck with tofu going bad in your fridge.

I think of this like ice-chipping- where freezing helps the tofu release all that extra water. Without its excess water it bakes up light and chewey and is much more spongey- will take on a lot more flavor or sauce than straight out of the package.

And this totally beats the "press your tofu under a plate" method which is messy and not as effective.

Best Tofu Ever Method:
  1. Purchase extra firm tofu. Firm will work if you can't get "extra firm".  Get the better brands (this method helps texture but can't fix a funky flavor if you bought low quality tofu).  Consider organic as soybeans are likely to be GMO otherwise.
  2. Drain the liquid from the package. Seal tofu back up or put in a container. 
  3. Place in freezer.
  4. Once frozen, thaw in fridge.
  5. Once thawed, squeeze out remaining liquid over sink.
  6. Cut tofu into chunks.
  7. Now cook with it. Two options:
    1. Roast plain or with olive oil and salt. Optional add other spices. Make sure you get some salt in there-- tofu needs salt! Then use the roasted cubes in salad, wrap sandwiches, tofu palak or any other dish where you'd brown the meat first. Or use instead of croutons on salad (the texture is pretty good for a crouton, and if you season like one then you're all set).
    2. Stick the frozen/thawed tofu into your favorite recipe and cook as usual.

Recipe idea: sub in tofu cubes instead of the traditional paneer Indian cheese in Palak Paneer, to make Tofu Palak. Use the method above (instead of frying) to get the tofu nice and chewy. Proceed with rest of the recipe.

Here is the interior of the tofu- you can see the long meat-like strands that give it great texture:


Fried Fish Taco

I forgot how much I love tacos. And you can get by without using a ton of oil either.

Fish Tacos for Two (people):
Prep the sides first so they are ready the moment the fish is done and hot.

Sliced avocado or gaucamole
Thin shredded red cabbage
Cotjia cheese
Salsa and or tomatoes
Onion slices

Cut 0.5 lb cod into large bite sized chunks. Dip in beaten eggs, then in panko bread crumbs.

Fry over high heat in a tablespoon of peanut oil (or another oil with high smoke point- don't use olive oil). Use a pan that can withstand high heat (i.e. not "non stick).

Flip when the bottom gets golden brown. Check frequently to make sure the insides of the pieces are cooked through.

Assemble a warmed tortilla with lettuce, cabbage, and all the fixings along with a couple pieces of hot fish. Eat immediately.


Flash in the pan Thai Eggplant

 I'm an eggplant junkie.  I really like the "angel eggplant" dish they serve at our local thai restaurant, lots of hot squishy eggplant in a flavorful chili sauce (and some other veggies too, but for me it's all about the eggplant). I finally figured out the secret to getting that great texture- you gotta really cook it hot.  And the oil helps too.

Heat a wide pan over high heat.

While pan is pre-heating, slice eggplant (preferably japanese/chinese eggplant) on the diagonal in slices 1/3 or 1/4 inch thick.

Pour in 2 TB of oil with a high smoke point (peanut oil is good; do NOT use olive oil it will smoke). Turn on exhaust fan.

Layer the eggplant slices in one layer. Do not crowd the pan- if you have extra eggplant do it in the next round.

Let it cook at high for 3-8 minutes, check the undersides-- they should be getting browned nicely.

Flip eggplant over, add more peanut oil if needed. Continue cooking until the entire slice feels mushy/soft all the way through.

Combine 1 tea thai sweet chili paste with a tablespoon or two of water in a small container.  Pour this into the hot pan (careful it will splatter). Stir to combine and mix the flavor around the eggplant slices.

Add sliced thai basil, stir and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

These turned out moist due to the heavy use of sweet potato. And the bits of flesh are unnoticeable with the flax meal and since I used white sweet potatoes.  This is nice to spruce up a salad or to serve as a snack with tea. Or pair with blueberries, spinach or eggs (I think all those flavors would go well with these- in fact my lunch today was these biscuits and a spinach blueberry smoothie!).  Heavenly hot off the pan with butter (or honey).

Makes 4-6 biscuits (i.e. enough to prevent overeating!)

Process in food processor until sweet potato is mixed in:
0.8 C whole wheat white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 baked sweet potato or yam (with or without peel)
2 TB flaxmeal

Now add 2-4 TB butter and process until chunky/clumpy.

Finally add 2-4 TB buttermilk or nondairy milk, stir to combine.

Plop dough in lumps on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until done (watch closely- I did mine at 450 for 15 minutes but they burnt! So try the lower temp).


Lotus Root Pickles for a Japanese side dish

Lotus root is called renkon in Japanese and I am curious to cook more with it.  They are so pretty when sliced. It's good to expand my winter vegetable repertoire! Some lotus root ideas:
  • Peel, slice and eat raw. Tastes very mild, like less-watery jicama.  I bet they'd be good in salad rolls?
  • Keep skin on, slice into 1/4 inch slices, then simmer in liquid or with soups or stews
  • Quick pickle like this recipe. Serve as a side dish or on top of rice. 

Quick Pickled Lotus Root:
 Soak in a small saucepan for 20 minutes or up to overnight:
1/2 C rice viengar (komezu)
2 TB sugar
1/4 tea salt
1 square inch kombu

Now bring to a boil, stir to dissolve. Then let cool and pour into a pint jar.

Set up a bowl of water and add a squirt of lemon juice.

Peel lotus root.  Slice thinly on a mandolin slicer and dunk in the bowl of water to prevent browning.

Drain lotus root, then parboil for 1-2 minutes (parboil in plain water, or in 2 C water and 2 TB rice vinegar/komezu).
Drain again and add the parboiled lotus slices to the solution in the pint jar.  Push the slices down until all the pieces are submerged in liquid. Put a piece of kombu on top.

Cover and refrigerate overnight or potentially a few months(?). You can start enjoying the next day (i.e. let it immerse in the liquid for a bit before you eat).

This is great as a add on to a Japanese meal with many little plates, such as sushi, tamagoyaki, miso soup etc.