Friday, January 7, 2011

lucky number 4

Do you have a lucky number?  Yes, I know that's kind of BS, but bear with me.  Although I know most things are purely chance, it does seem like 4 has done me well over the years.  It could be that I prefer the number 4 because everyone in my immediate family has a 4 in their birthday.  Mom's 4, I'm 14, Dad and Sis are 24 (of different months)...that's kind of cool, if you think about it - what are the chances?  Also, these four birthdays occur over the course of four months.

So, that's my excuse for favoring four.  Does anyone know Isa's?

One of the fun things about constructing a menu completely from one cookbook, or even from multiple cookbooks by the same author, is that you start to pick out patterns.  Now that I am....well...more than four meals into Appetite for Reduction, It seems like Isa's magic number for garlic is 4 cloves.

That was kind of a tangent that has nothing at all to do with dinner, but it was on my mind, so I thought I'd share.  Besides, it's better than the story of how Blogger wouldn't let me post anything last night, so now you get a two-fer.

Last night, I made Braised Cabbage with Seitan and finally, Jerk Asparagus.  It was fantastic.  It may or may not look like much, but it tasted heavenly.  Once again, even though I work for the #1 home-delivery weight loss program in the country, I was astounded that "diet food" could taste this downright decadent.  Granted, I probably violated the portion a little bit, but how can you really go wrong with cabbage?  Again, I was very pleased with the flavor and texture of the homemade seitan - it has the savory-spicy flavor of a Tofurky sausage and is nice and chewy.

Something I noticed while browning the seitan before adding the cabbage: since I just re-wrapped the seitan in the tin foil and stuck it in the fridge, it was quite thirsty and willing to rapidly soak up the broth I added to prevent it from sticking to my non-stick saute pan.  Perhaps next time I will experiment with a simmered seitan and store leftovers in leftover broth.  That will probably more closely mimic my dearly loved Ray's Seitan.

Because I used green cabbage and because I braised it in a relatively rich stock with a generous helping of thyme, the cabbage was surprisingly savory.  Normally, when I cook cabbage, it's red and retains some sweetness, regardless of the way I prepare it.  The flavors and textures of this dish complemented one another perfectly and it was a pretty easy dish to prepare, so I'm sure it will find its way into some kind of rotation.  The 15 minutes of braising on the stovetop gave me time to cook the Jerk Asparagus.

It was a different taste for me.  Ordinarily, I roast asparagus because ordinarily, I buy the thick stems.  These were not pencil-thin, but they only look so substantial in the picture because they are perched upon a 1940s bread and butter plate (did you know our dinner plates have increased in diameter by as many as 3 inches since the 1950s?).  The asparagus might have been a little cinnamon-heavy...I didn't add more than a dash, but it has such a pungent scent, I might do better in the future to either leave it out or counter it with a little more thyme.  It was good and Mister was thrilled, though.

Tonight, I made Ginger Bok Choy and Soba, which allowed me my treasured privilege of finding a rose at the bottom of one stalk:

I absolutely love how it does that, and the Evil Martha Stewart lurking within me will eventually collect a bunch of bok choy butts and spray-paint them gold for a centerpiece someday.

The finished product was not terribly attractive and upon first bite, not terribly exciting.  I added a little more tamari to mine and felt it was substantially improved.  Mister happily wolfed down two bowls before I was halfway through mine without additional seasoning, so it could be personal preference.  I don't enjoy ginger quite as much as Mister - I'm more of a tamari/umami kind of gal.

If I could end on a tangent, the gorgeous, slimy bowl of noodles you see above almost didn't make its way onto the table tonight.  I know you're going to get tired of reading this because I know my car-less butt is going to be complaining about it all winter, but here it goes:  It was SO COLD when I was walking home from the train tonight.  As I got closer to home, I tried to take my mind off the dreadfulness nipping at my nose by plotting dinner.  As I drew nearer to Superfresh (if I detour a block I'll pass it), it occurred to me that I did not want noodles for dinner, I wanted something hearty and innard-warming.  I thought of creating a casserole, but didn't want to invest the time.  Suddenly, I remembered one of my favorite, fast-cooking slow-food recipes (figure that one out) and nearly ran to SF for supplies for Chickpea Stew with Fried Polenta, but in the end, decided I had such good momentum going that I didn't want to screw it up by taking a detour...  I wonder, though, if I'll make it home without a pit stop tomorrow, because it's still on my brain!

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