05 May 2010

Cardamom, Curry, Cumin...

I know Cinco de Mayo isn't a real Holiday for Mexico, but I'm still disappointed I didn't celebrate via Mexican cuisine. But I'm still just getting the hang of what day it is, as I've only been back to work 2 days. And somehow, Curried Tofu became the dish of day for the 5th of May.

I use curry a lot in the kitchen, but I've never used this much! The recipe called for 1/4 cup, which for me was too much without other spices to offset it. It may have been that I drenched the tofu in the curry marinade while it was cooking; maybe the hour of marinating was enough flavor. A lot of this cookbook project is basically just experimenting with consistency and flavors. The texture was still good, since the tofu was pressed and then baked.

I wanted to serve a decent amount of vegetables with the tofu, so I made Sautéed Spinach and Tomatoes. A basic concept that I've made 101 different ways, this particular recipe used ginger in addition to my standard garlic and onions. I improvised with canned diced tomatoes, and it turned out more than fine. Quick & easy, this would be a great partner to most any meal.

The last dish to finish was the first to be borrowed from Nancy's Moosewood Restaurant: New Classics book. As a rule, I love love love the Moosewood cookbooks. I dream of the day I can go to the restaurant, and own every book they've published, and cook every recipe. But the equal amount of Vegetarian and Seafood recipes vs. Vegan ones had made me avoid opening their books since this project started.

Their Orange Saffron Rice made me realize I missed out on a prime resource the last 4 months. A combination of orange zest, saffron, cardamom, and turmeric lend the perfect flavor in contrast to the strong curry. It also taught me a new technique, by sautéing the rice in oil and the spices before cooking the rice in water. It seemed to really bring out a nutty flavor in the basmati.

I might have missed the chance to have a Mexican luncheon, but this trio was a tasty alternative. Plus now I can put several more Moosewood cookbooks on my wish list. Trust me, you should too. You won't regret it!

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